Courtesy Houghton Mifflin Company
May 16th marked the day Margret Rey was born to Jewish parents in Hamburg, Germany in 1906. She is best known for co-creating the beloved Curious George books, illustrated by her husband Hans ("H.A.") Rey. In 1935, her job as a reporter and advertising copywriter took her to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. While there, she came in contact with Hans, also originally from Hamburg - whom she had met years before.
They married and moved to Paris, where their first children's book, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, was published in 1939. In that story, one of the monkeys — "Jimmy, the brave monkey" — is standing next to his brother, Fifi. It is Fifi who would later become known as "Curious George".
Margret and her husband were living in Paris when the Nazis invaded, and the couple fled the city on bicycles just hours before the German Army arrived. In their luggage was the manuscript of the first Curious George book. Eventually the Reys reached the United States, along with the unpublished story featuring their mischievous little monkey protagonist.
There is also a biography about the Reys, in picture book format, The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H. A. Rey, by Louise Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond. (You can click on Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to see inside the book.)
The Reys became naturalized citizens in 1946. H.A. Rey died on August 26, 1977. The couple had been married for 42 years, but never had any children of their own. Margret continued with her career in writing after her husband's death. When she turned 90 in 1996, Margret gave $1 million to the Boston Public Library and its branches to improve their Children's Rooms. She also gave $1 million to Beth Israel Hospital for its Center for Alternative Medicine for Research, which studies nontraditional therapies. She died on December 21, 1996 in her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
source: Greenville Public Library page