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Author Of ‘Curious George’ Books Dies

Mon., Dec. 23, 1996

Margret E. Rey, half of the husband-and-wife team that created the “Curious George” children’s books about the irrepressible monkey, has died at age 90.

Rey died Saturday at her home in Cambridge after suffering a heart attack about three weeks ago, her publisher said.

She and her husband, H.A. Rey, created the fictional monkey Curious George while living in Paris in the 1930s. The couple escaped on bicycles with the unsold manuscript in 1940 before the German occupation.

After Houghton Mifflin published “Curious George” in 1941, the Reys wrote six more books over 25 years, all about the trouble-prone monkey who wreaks havoc and has to be rescued or forgiven - or saves the day.

Though both were artists, H.A. Rey illustrated the Curious George books while Margret Rey created the stories.

She had met Hans Augusto Rey as a girl and they married in 1935.

A German native, Rey studied at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, the Academy of Art in Duesseldorf and at an art school in Berlin, where she had a one-woman show of her watercolors in the early 1920s.

She also worked as a newspaper reporter, an advertising copywriter and a photographer. After the Reys’ honeymoon, they moved to Paris.

It was there that a publisher who had seen Hans Augusto Rey’s humorous drawing of a giraffe asked them to collaborate on a children’s book. The result was the 1939 book “Rafi et les Neuf Singes.’ One of the “Nine Monkeys” of the title was a prototype for George.

After escaping Paris, the couple eventually made their way to New York.

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