James Agee was born. Agee was an American author, journalist, poet, screenwriter and film critic. In the 1940s, he was one of the most influential film critics in the U.S. His autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family (1957), won the author a posthumous 1958 Pulitzer Prize. During his lifetime, Agee enjoyed only modest public recognition. Since his death, his literary reputation has grown. In 1957, his novel, A Death in the Family (based on the events surrounding his father’s death), was published posthumously. In 2007, Dr. Michael Lofaro published a restored edition of the novel using Agee’s original manuscripts. Agee’s work had been heavily edited before its original publication by publisher David McDowell.
Also on this day in literary history, Margret Elizabeth Rey was born. With her husband H. A. Rey, Rey co-authored and illustrated children’s books, the most famous of which are the Curious George series.
Following her husband’s death in 1977, Margret continued writing, and in 1979, became a Professor of Creative Writing at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Starting in 1980, she also began to collaborate with Alan Shalleck on a series of short films featuring Curious George and more than two dozen additional books.
In 1989 Margret Rey established the Curious George Foundation to help creative children and prevent cruelty to animals. In 1996, she made major donations to the Boston Public Library and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She was also a long-time supporter of the Longy School of Music.
Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, a professor in the field of library science (specializing in children’s literature) at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., contacted the Reys in 1966 about the university’s new children’s literature collection. H.A. and Margret made a donation of a pair of sketches at the time. In 1996, after Margret’s death, it was revealed in her will that the entire literary estate of the Reys was to be donated to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at Southern Miss.