Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Manuscript of Curious George Saved During WWII

The manuscript of Curious George was placed on the back of a bicycle while Margaret  and Hans Rey escaped  before Nazis invaded.  They were both German Jews who wanted to create art in the inspirational city of Paris.  But they feared for their lives as they constructed two handmade bicycles while German planes flew overhead.  They journeyed to Spain, Portugal and Rio.  The couple sailed to America and saw the Statue of Liberty, representing freedom.   After one week of being in Greenwich Village their talent was discovered and the beloved Curious George became a household name.   Curious George appeared in 1941.

Hans Reyersback was born  in Hamburg Germany in 1889.  He later changed his name to Rey.  He loved going to the Hagenbeck Zoo where he drew animals.   He later painted circus posters to make a living.  His original drawings of Curious George were in watercolor.

Margaret Walstien was born in 1906 in the same city and they knew each other briefly.  She studied art at the famous Bauhaus School.    She left to become a photographer in London.  They met as adults and eventually became married.  They started an advertising agency in Rio de Janeiro.  They later moved to Paris where the idea of George was created.

"In June 1940, on a rainy morning before dawn, a few hours before the Nazis, entered we left Paris on bicyles, with nothing but warm coats and our manuscripts, Curious George among them...tied to baggage racks, and started pedaling south.  We finally made it to Lisbon, by train, having sold our bicyles to customs officials at the French Spanish border."  Margret tells in her own words.

The couple didn't have children of their own so they enjoyed knowing so many children enjoyed their stories.   H. A. drew the pictures and Margret wrote the words.  They were devoted to each other throughout their lives.

Their inspirations for stories came from every day experiences in life.  But knowing  the character of Curious George was saved on the back of a homemade bicycle make the books even more precious.

 Even though George gets into trouble because he's curious,  he ends up helping people.

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