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CURIOUS GEORGE COMES TO HATTIESBURG


A display of drawings, manuscripts, books, and other materials documenting the life and work of H. A. and Margret Rey is on view at the de Grummond Collection from September 1, 1999, through April 30, 2000. Curious George Comes to Hattiesburg: The Life and Work of H. A. and Margret Rey explores the couple's contributions to the history of twentieth-century children's literature. Among the 400 illustrations, manuscripts, photographs, diaries, letters, books, pottery, and needlepoint on display are the original illustrations for Curious George, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. These illustrations were among the few possessions that the Reys were able to bring with them to the United States when they fled the Nazi invasion of Paris in 1940.
 

The exhibit focuses on numerous facets of the Reys' creative life. Their career in children's books began with the publication of Le Zoo and Le Cirque by Hachette, a Paris publisher. Several other books were also published in Paris and England before they immigrated to the United States. Curious George was published in the United States shortly after their arrival, and the rest is history. There would be another six Curious George titles published during H. A. Rey's lifetime. Other popular characters created by the Reys are Spotty, Katy No-Pocket, Pretzel, and Cecily G.
 

Highlights of the exhibit are a rare copy of Rafi et les 9 Singes, their first children's book published in France; the original illustrations for Zebrology, Rey's first book in English; and products of the Reys' Brazilian advertising company, including posters, greeting cards, and direct mail advertisements. Personal items include diaries, photograph albums, correspondence between the Reys, and drawings of H. A. by Margret. On display are the annual New Year's cards designed by the Reys and sent to their family and friends from 1940 to 1976.
 

Included in the exhibit are exceptional examples of unpublished manuscripts and illustrations. There is an illustrated pencil manuscript for a story about Curious George and Randolph, Cecily G.'s brother giraffe. Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World is a full-color picture book with hand-lettered text.

Margret's creativity was not limited to the production of children's books. She was an accomplished photographer, potter, and needlewoman. Examples of her photographs, pottery, and needlepoint are among the items on display.
 

Margret and H. A. Rey were both born in Hamburg, Germany, H. A. in 1898 and Margret in 1906. Because of the economic conditions of prewar Germany and Hitler's rising popularity, they individually immigrated to Brazil, where they became reacquainted in 1935. Married shortly thereafter, they departed for a two-week Parisian honeymoon that turned into a four-year stay. Forced to flee Paris in 1940 because of the Nazi occupation of France, they eventually made their home in New York City, later moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts. After forty-two creative and happy years together, H. A. died in 1977 at the age of 79. Margret continued their work, overseeing the production of a new series of Curious George books. Shortly after celebrating her 90th birthday, Margret died in 1996.
 

The items in Curious George Comes to Hattiesburg are drawn from the holdings of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. The Reys were among the first authors and illustrators to entrust their manuscripts and illustrations to the Collection in 1966. Contributions continued over the next twenty years, and, upon Margret's death, their entire literary archive was willed to the de Grummond Collection.
 

The exhibit and public programming are funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council, the Hattiesburg Arts Council, The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation, and Houghton Mifflin Company. An exhibition catalog is available, and more information can be obtained by calling 601-266-4349 or by e-mail at <dee.jones@usm.edu>.
 

 

Contact:
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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