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The Complete Adventures of Curious George

A Brief History of the World's Favorite Monkey

Curious George Flees the Nazis

H(ans) A(ugusto) Rey was born on September 16, 1898, in Hamburg, Germany. He grew up there near the world-famous Hagenbeck Zoo, and developed a lifelong love for both animals and drawing. Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein (who would be known to most of the world as Margret Rey) was also born in Hamburg on May 16, 1906. The two met briefly when Margret was a young girl, before she left Hamburg to study art. They were reunited in 1935 in Rio de Janeiro, where Hans was selling bathtubs as part of a family business and where Margret had gone to escape the political climate in Germany. Margret convinced Hans to leave the family business, and soon they were working together on a variety of projects.

Hans and Margret were married in Brazil on August 16, 1935, but they moved to Paris after falling in love with the city during their European honeymoon. It was there that Hans published his first children’s book, after a French publisher saw his newspaper cartoons of a giraffe and asked him to expand upon them. Ragi et les 9 singes (Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys in English) was the result, and marked the debut of a mischievous monkey named Curious George.

After Ragi et les 9 singes was published, the Reys decided that Curious George deserved a book of his own, so they began work on a manuscript that featured the lovable and exceedingly curious little monkey. But the late 1930’s and early 40s were a tumultuous time in Europe, and before the new manuscript could be published, the Reys—both German Jews—found themselves in a horrible situation. Hitler and his Nazi party were tearing through Europe, and they were poised to take control of the city. Knowing that they must escape before the Nazis took power, Hans cobbled together two bicycles out of spare parts. Early in the morning of June 14, 1940, the Reys set off on their bicycles. They brought very little with them on their pre-dawn flight . . . only warm coats, a bit of food, and five manuscripts, one of which was Curious George. The Nazis entered Paris just hours later, but the Reys were already on their way. They rode their makeshift bicycles for four long days until reaching the French-Spanish border, where they sold them for train fare to Lisbon. From there they made their way to Brazil and on to New York City, where they began a whole new life as children’s book authors.

Curious George was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941, and for sixty years he has been capturing the hearts and minds of readers throughout the world. All the Curious George books, including the seven original stories by Margret and Hans, have sold over 25 million copies. So popular that his original story has never been out of print, George has become one of the most beloved and most recognizable characters from children’s literature. His adventures have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, French, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Chinese, Danish, and Norwegian.







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