John Erskine (October 5, 1879 – June 2, 1951) was an American educator and author, pianist and composer. He was an English professor at Amherst College from 1903 to 1909, followed by Columbia University from 1909 to 1937. During his tenure at Columbia University he formulated the General Honors Course—responsible for inspiring the influential Great Books movement. He published over 100 books, novels, criticism, and essays including his most important essay, The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent (1915).

Books in order of publication:

  • The Elizabethan Lyric (1903)
  • Selections from the Faerie Queene (1905)
  • Actœon and Other Poems (1907)
  • Leading American novelists (1910)
  • Written English, with Helen Erskine (1910; revised edition, 1913)
  • Selections from the Idylls of the King (1912)
  • The Kinds of Poetry (1913)
  • Poems of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, with W. P. Trent (1914)
  • Contemporary War Poems (Introduction) (1914)
  • The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent, and Other Essays (1915)
  • Interpretations of Literature, by Lafcadio Hearn (edited and with an introduction by Erskine) (1915)
  • Appreciations of Poetry, by Lafcadio Hearn (edited and with an introduction by Erskine) (1916)
  • Life and Literature, by Lafcadio Hearn (edited and with an introduction by Erskine)(1917)
  • The Shadowed Hour (1917)
  • Democracy and Ideals (1920)
  • Short History of American Literature; Based Upon the Cambridge History of American Literature (1922)
  • The Little Disciple (1923)
  • The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1925)
  • Sonata (1925)
  • Galahad (1926)
  • Adam and Eve (1927)
  • American Character (1927)
  • Prohibition and Christianity, and Other Paradoxes (1927)
  • The Delight of Great Books (1928)
  • Penelope’s Man (1928)
  • Sincerity (1929)
  • Uncle Sam in the Eyes of His Family (1930)
  • Cinderella’s Daughter, and Other Sequels and Consequences (1930)
  • Bachelor of Arts (1934)
  • The Influence of Women and Its Cure (1936)
  • The Brief Hour of Francois Villon (1937)
  • The Start of the Road (1938)
  • Baker’s Wife (1940)
  • Give Me liberty; the Story of an Innocent Bystander (1940)
  • Casanova’s Women, Eleven Moments of a Year (1941)
  • “What Is Music?” (1944)
  • The Human Life of Jesus (1945)
  • Venus, the Lonely Goddess (1949)
  • My Life in Music (1950)