H. A. Rey
Hans Augusto Rey (September 16, 1898 – August 26, 1977) was an illustrator and a writer, known best for the Curious George series of children's picture books that he and his wife Margret Rey created from 1939 to 1966.
Hans Augusto Reyersbach was born in Hamburg, Germany. Hans and Margret were both German Jews. They met in Brazil, where Hans was working as a salesman and Margret had gone to escape the rise of Nazism. They married in 1935 and moved to Paris that year.
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, 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. The outbreak of World War II interrupted their work. 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.
The Reys' odyssey brought them to Bayonne, France where they were issued life-saving visas signed by Vice-Consul Manuel Vieira Braga (following instructions from Aristides de Sousa Mendes) on June 20, 1940. They crossed 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 Reys escaped Europe carrying the manuscript to the first Curious George book, which they then published in New York by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. Hans and Margret originally planned to use watercolor illustrations, but since they were responsible for the color separation, he changed these to the cartoon-like images that continue to be featured in each of the books. (A collector's edition with the original watercolors has since been released.)
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, covers omitted Margret's name. In later editions this was changed, and Margret now receives full credit for her role in developing the stories.
Curious George Takes a Job was named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1960.
The Reys relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts during 1963, in a house near Harvard Square, and lived there until Hans's death in 1977. In the 1990s, the Reys's friends founded a children's bookstore named Curious George & Friends (formerly Curious George Goes to Wordsworth), which operated in the Square until 2011. A new Curious George themed store opened in April 2012, The World's Only Curious George Store, now stands in the same location as the original.
Rey's interest in astronomy began during World War I and led to his desire to redraw constellation diagrams, which he found difficult to remember, so that they were more intuitive. This led to the 1952 publication of The Stars: A New Way to See Them, (ISBN 0-395-24830-2). His constellation diagrams were adopted widely and now appear in many astronomy guides, such as Donald H. Menzel's A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. As of 2003 The Stars: A New Way to See Them, and a simplified presentation for children called Find the Constellations, are still in print. A new edition of Find the Constellations was released in 2008, updated with modern fonts, the new status of Pluto, and some more current measurements of planetary sizes and orbital radii.
The University of Oregon holds H. A. Rey papers dated 1940 to 1961, dominated by correspondence, primarily between Rey and his American and British publishers.
Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, a professor in the field of library science at The University of Southern Mississippi, contacted the Reys in 1966 about USM's new children's literature collection. H. A. and Margret donated a pair of sketches at the time. When Margret Rey died in 1996, her will designated that the entire literary estate of the Reys would be donated to the de Grummond Collection.
Books written by H.A. Rey
- Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys
- Curious George
- Curious George Takes a Job
- Curious George Rides a Bike
- Curious George Gets a Medal
- Curious George Flies a Kite
- Curious George Learns the Alphabet
- Curious George Goes to the Hospital
- Feed the Animals
- Find the Constellations
- Elizabite - Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant
- How Do You Get There?
- The Stars: A New Way to See Them
- Where's My Baby?
- See the Circus
- Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World
- Au Clair de la Lune and other French Nursery Songs (1941)
- Spotty (1945)
Books illustrated by H.A. Rey
- Zebrology (1937)
- Don't Frighten the Lion (1942)
- Katy No-Pocket (1944)
- We Three Kings and other Christmas Carols (1944)
- "Monkey Business in a World of Evil". Rothstein, Edward. The New York Times. March 26, 2010.
- "H(ans) A(ugusto) Rey." Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, 2nd ed., 8 vols. Gale Group, 2002. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- "Guide to the H. A. Rey Papers 1940–1961". Northwest Digital Archives. Retrieved 2013-06-24. With Historical Note.
- "Boston.com News, By Mark Feeney Globe Staff". The Boston Globe. September 17, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- "New York Times, By Dinitia Smith". The New York Times. September 13, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- "Rey". Sousa Mendes Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- H.A. Rey (1998). The Original Curious George (Collector's ed.). HMH Books. ISBN 978-0-395-92272-9. OCLC 39972712.
- "Boston.com Culture Desk, By Doug Most". The Boston Globe. June 6, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
- Rao, Joe. "Four-Star Sight: The Celestial Diamond". Space.com. TechMedia Network. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- French, Jeffrey A. (2/1/2009). "Grades 5 & Up: REY, H. A. Find the Constellations". School Library Journal. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- "H. A. Rey & Margret Rey Papers". de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. University of Southern Mississippi. June 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-24. With Biographical Sketch.
- New York Times: "How Curious George Escaped the Nazis"
- A curious tale of George's creators
- Jaeger, Roland: H. A. und Margret Rey; in: Spalek, John M. / Feilchenfeldt, Konrad / Hawrylchak, Sandra H. (ed.): Deutschsprachige Exilliteratur seit 1933, vol. 3, USA, part 2; Bern/München 2000, p. 351−360
- Jaeger, Roland: Collecting Curious George. Children's Books Illustrated by H. A. Rey; in: Firsts. The Book Collector's Magazine, vol. 8, 1998, no. 12 (Dec.), p. 50-57
- Jaeger, Roland: Der Schöpfer von "Curious George": Kinderbuch-Illustrator H. A. Rey; in: Aus dem Antiquariat, 1997, No. 10, A543−A551
- H. A. Rey at the Internet Movie Database
- Margret and H. A. Rey Interactive Timeline: Life in Paris and a Narrow Escape
- Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey, The Jewish Museum (New York), March 14, 2010 - August 1, 2010.