Happy Birthday H.A. Rey!
The creator of that mischievous, curious monkey we all know and love, H.A. Rey, was born on this day, August 16th in 1898. Together with his wife Margaret, they created one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature, Curious George!
Hans Augusto Rey was born in Hamburg, Germany, where he grew up close to the Hagenbeck Zoo. He visited the zoo often as a child and came to love animals and drawing. His books are a reflection of being a boy, and he is said to have written what he thought children would love and enjoy instead of trying to please the publishing market.
H.A. Rey was born in Germany but moved with his wife to the United States in 1940. Both German Jews, the Rey’s barely escaped Paris before it was invaded by Adolph Hitler. A four day journey on their bicycles with all they could carry with them, including the manuscript for Curious George, they made their way to the French-Spanish border and shortly after, New York City.
H.A. and his wife Margaret co-created the character of Curious George. The first book was published in 1947. George originally appeared in the story of a giraffe and nine monkeys. They liked the idea of a the mischievous monkey so much that they created a story about him.
When the team worked together, Margaret wrote most of the stories and H.A did the illustrating. Initially, only H.A.’s name appeared on the books. The publishers believed that since so many children’s authors were women at that time that a male author might sell more books. The books were quickly changed to include both names.
There are seven original Curious George stories, which have remained so popular they have never gone out of print. Over 25 million of Margaret and H.A.’s books have been sold and published in several different languages. Children around the world continue to love the curious little monkey and his adventures!
Although neither of the Rey’s are currently living, their legacy lives on through the Curious George Foundation. In l989, the foundation was established to secure funds for children to always be able to share the curiosity of George. The foundation supports many causes related to the safe keeping of animals and the importance of family values and relations.
Curious George, a little monkey who gets into some pretty big adventures, has inspired curiosity and a love of reading in children for over 60 years. Many thanks to H.A. and Margaret Rey. Where would we be without George!