H.A. Rey

Margaret and H.A. Rey

Writer and illustrator H.A. (Hans) Rey grew up near the famous Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, a great location for someone with a love of animals and drawing. He married writer Margret Waldstein in 1935 when he was living in Brazil selling bathtubs. The Reys moved to Paris, where H.A.’s first children’s book, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, was published in 1939. In that story, one of the monkeys, Fifi would later become known as Curious George. The manuscript for Curious George was one of five that the Reys brought with them when they fled Paris in 1940 — just hours ahead of Hitler’s invading army — on bicycles they built from spare parts. They made it safely out of France to the United States (via ships, not on the bikes) and settled in Greenwich Village. The Reys would go on to write and illustrate numerous books for children including Pretzel in 1944 about an extremely flexible dachshund.