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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Rey, Margret

Margret Rey Curious George Visits the Zoo
Jorge el Curioso Pretzel

Margret Rey was born Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein on May 16, 1906, in Hamburg, Germany. When she was in her teens, she met a boy eight years older than she. His name was Hans Augusto Reyersbach. Then Margret left her hometown to study art at Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany (where Klee and Kandinsky were on the faculty), the Academy of Art in Duesseldorf, and an art school in Berlin.

When the political climate in Germany grew ominous, Margret moved to Brazil. There, in Rio de Janiero, she once again met H.A. Rey, who was selling bathtubs for his family’s business. The two were married in 1935. They honeymooned in Paris and ended up living there.

Their first book, Rafi et les Neuf Singes, was requested by a French publisher. It would eventually be published in the U.S. as Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys. The couple were particularly fond of one curious monkey among the nine. They wrote a manuscript about him.

By this time, the political temperature in Paris was as hot as it had been in Germany several years earlier. On the morning of June 14, 1940, the Reys took very few of their belongings, but five manuscripts, and rode out of Paris on makeshift bicycles. They rode hard for four days, finally reaching the Spanish border. There, they boarded a train for Lisbon, a boat for Brazil, and eventually moved to New York City. One of those manuscripts, Curious George, would very quickly be accepted for publication by Houghton Mifflin Company.

The couple would produce seven books about Curious George before Mr. Rey died in 1977. Although both of them were artists, Mr. Rey was the illustrator and Ms. Rey was the author. They worked best that way. Ms. Rey would go on to write another 28 books about Curious George with Alan J. Shalleck as the illustrator.

Ms. Rey died at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1996, at the age of 90. 

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