John Erskine

(1879–1951)

John Erskine

Anecdote 1...

Erskine was once asked if he found it disconcerting to see members of the audience looking at their watches during a long lecture. “No,” replied Erskine, “not until they start shaking them.”

Anecdote 2...

Erskine was to lecture at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the president of the university went to the station to meet him. He had some difficulty in recognizing his guest, however, and told Erskine about it at dinner that evening. “I asked one gentleman if he were John Erskine and he said, with emphasis, ‘I should say not.’ I asked another, and he said, ‘I wish I were.’ Which shows that at least one man had read your books.”

“It does indeed,” replied Erskine, “but which one?”

Biographical Note: 

John Erskine was a US educator and writer, professor of English at Columbia University (1909-37). His works include The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent (1915) and The Private Life of Helen of Troy (1925). An accomplished composer and musician, Erskine served as the first president of the Juilliard School of Music from 1928 to 1937, was a director of the Metropolitan Opera Association, and wrote several books on music.