30, 1966, Dr. Lena de Grummond sent a letter to H.A. and Margret
Rey, creators of the famous Curious George series,
inviting them to become contributors to her newly founded
children's literature collection. Little did she know, her
initial inquiry would lead to numerous contacts with the creative
couple over the next 32 years.
Rey responded to Dr. de Grummond's letter, saying that he
would send an autographed proof sheet, a star chart, autobiographical
materials, a set of miniature book jackets, a photograph of
himself with a monkey, and a rough sketch of George about
to swallow a piece of jigsaw puzzle. This gracious letter
was made all the more valuable by an original drawing in the
bottom corner showing George with a mailing tube under his
arm next to a signpost for Hattiesburg.
first donation was followed by several letters and then a
second contribution in 1972 of two original illustrations
for Curious George. Although the Reys and Dr. de Grummond
continued to correspond, there was not another contribution
until 1990. H.A. Rey had passed away in 1977, and in 1989,
contact was made with Margret Rey regarding an additional
contribution. In 1990, the Collection received an outstanding
group of materials. Included were color separations for Curious
George, Curious George Takes a Job, Zozo Gets
a Medal, Curious George Learns the Alphabet, Curious
George Rides a Bike, and Curious George Flies a Kite.
In addition, full-color illustrations for Zebrology,
Katy No-Pocket, Billy's Picture, and We Three
Kings were also contributed. A very interesting group
of materials are full-color dummies for unpublished works
including "Nonsense ABC," "Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the
World," "The Water Cure," and "The Street."
again, we kept in contact with Margret Rey over the next seven
years. She generously allowed us to use the image showing
George with the mailing tube on his way to Hattiesburg as
part of our web page logo [http://www.lib.usm.edu/legacy/degrum/public_html].
Margret Rey celebrated her 90th birthday at a festive party
hosted by Houghton Mifflin, publishers of the Curious George
books. A short time later, on December 21, 1996, Margret Rey
succumbed to her fight with heart disease and cancer. Early
in 1998, The University of Southern Mississippi was notified
that Mrs. Rey had stipulated in her will that the remaining
original materials and books were to be placed in the de Grummond
Collection along with their other materials.
the Rey home in February 1998 and met with the coexecutor
of the estate, Lay Lee Ong. Ms. Ong was a very close friend
of Mrs. Rey and has remained at their home in Cambridge along
with Mrs. Rey's cocker spaniel, Jeannie. The home was alive
with Curious George memorabilia and original artwork.
Hundreds of stuffed Curious George dolls in all sizes
adorned the window seat and stairway landings.
the assistance of Ms. Ong, we chose materials that would be
appropriate for inclusion in the de Grummond Collection. We
returned to Hattiesburg laden with preliminary sketches, notebooks
of ideas, full-color dummies, original illustrations, photographs,
press sheets, reviews, and fan mail. Much of the early work
created by the Reys is included. Of particular interest are
original illustrations and dummy pages for Cecily G. and
the 9 Monkeys, the book in which Curious George
first appeared, as one of the nine monkeys. We also have the
original title page with the caption "Fifi: The Adventures
of a Monkey," for the book that became Curious George. There
are extensive preliminary materials for Curious George
Goes to the Hospital and Curious George Learns the
Alphabet that reveal the tedious creative process.
Rey had an intense interest in astronomy and produced two
books on the subject. The Stars: A New Way to See Them
(1952) was written for an adult audience and provided a new
method of star recognition. Still in print after 46 years,
The Stars is considered by many to be the best reference
work in the field. The large amount of preparatory materials
that exist for this title reflect Rey's dedication to this
book. There are original manuscripts, star charts and calendar
charts hand-lettered in painstaking detail, original art for
the dust jacket and for charts of the seasonal skies. A unique
item is a large black circle with hand-drawn stars that is
mounted on a wooden post in such a way that the circle can
be moved to an appropriate position for each page of the book.
the Constellations is directed at children and uses a simplified
version of the star recognition method developed by Rey. This
title is represented with typescripts, numerous preliminary
illustrations, color separations, a dummy, fan mail, and reviews.
items include children's pages from Good Housekeeping magazine,
with short stories created by the Reys featuring characters
such as Pretzel, Zozo, the Frivolous Firefly,
and Sammy the Spider. A number of outstanding full-color
dummies for unpublished books include "Indian Tortoise Stories",
"My Circus", "Where's Mommy?", and "The Cigar Tree." H.A.
Rey was also quite interested in history and evolution and
had prepared a number of full-color charts depicting historical
events and life through the ages.
in the collection also document the very early professional
work of both Margret and H.A. Rey. Margret trained as a photographer,
and we have 29 examples of her black-and-white photographs.
As is true of many children's book illustrators, H.A. Rey
first earned a living through commercial art. We have many
examples of the advertising campaigns that he created for
pharmaceutical companies Hoffmann- LaRoche in Basel and Roche
in Brazil. Other examples of commercial art include elaborate
and decorative maps of Africa, Brazil, S o Paulo, and the
Leopoldina Railway line.
to come are most of the original illustrations for Curious
George, first published in 1941. Editors at Houghton Mifflin
assembled the original full-color illustrations and will use
them to print a new deluxe edition to be published in late
Grummond Collection is very excited to have these additional
materials from the Rey Estate and want to share them with
interested students, teachers, librarians, and scholars everywhere.
We are planning a major exhibition of Rey materials at the
de Grummond Collection within the next year. We will be involving
area schools and public libraries, as well as bookstores and
others interested in children's literature.
have cataloged all of the published books created by H.A.
and Margret Rey that are held in our Collection and will soon
be adding the newest version of the detailed listing of original
materials to the de Grummond Collection web page. There is
a version of the listing currently available via the Internet,
but it does not include these latest additions.
of the de Grummond Collection is indebted to the executors
of the Rey estate for all of their assistance in arranging
for the transfer of materials. We know that these creative
efforts of Margret and H.A. Rey will live on to inform and
delight new generations of scholars and readers.