H. A. Rey

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Hans Augusto "H.A." Rey (September 16, 1898 – August 26, 1977), together with his wife Margret Rey, were the authors and illustrators of children's books, best known for their Curious George series.[1] Hans (who was born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany)[2] and Margret actually met in Brazil, where Hans was a salesman and Margret had gone to escape the rise of Nazism. They married in 1935 and moved to Paris that same year.


Curious George Book Series

While in Paris, Hans's animal drawings came to the attention of a French publisher, who commissioned him to write a children's book. The result, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, is little remembered today, but one of its characters, an adorably impish monkey named Curious George, was such a success that the couple considered writing a book just about him. Their work was interrupted with the outbreak of World War II. As Jews, the Reys decided to flee Paris before the Nazis seized the city. Hans assembled two bicycles, and they fled Paris just a few hours before it fell. Among the meager possessions they brought with them was the illustrated manuscript of Curious George.[3][4]

The Reys' odyssey brought them to the Spanish border, where they bought train tickets to Lisbon. From there they returned to Brazil, where they had met five years earlier, but this time they continued to New York. The books were published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. Hans and Margret originally planned to use watercolor illustration, but since they were responsible for the color separation, he changed these to the cartoon-like images that continue to feature in each of the books. (A collector's edition with the original watercolors has since been released.)[5]

Curious George was an instant success, and the Reys were commissioned to write more adventures of the mischievous monkey and his friend, the Man in the Yellow Hat. They wrote seven stories in all, with Hans mainly doing the illustrations and Margret working mostly on the stories, though they both admitted to sharing the work and cooperating fully in every stage of development. At first, however, Margret's name was left off the cover, ostensibly because there was a glut of women already writing children's fiction. In later editions, this was changed, and Margret now receives full credit for her role in developing the stories.

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