Curious George made his first appearance in the 1939 children’s book Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys by H.A. (Hans) Rey and wife Margret Waldstein. 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.
The manuscript for Curious George was one of five that the Reys brought with them when they fled Paris in 1940 — just hours ahead of Hitler’s invading army — on bicycles they built from spare parts. They made it safely out of France to the United States and settled in Greenwich Village.
Curious George was published in the United States in 1941. (Published that same year in England, George’s name was changed to Zozo so as not to disrespectfully associate King George VI with a monkey!) Over the following 25 years, Margret and H.A. wrote six more Curious George stories.