George Santayana

George Santayana, whose full name was Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, is a Spanish writer generally considered to be an American writer because of his influence when he taught at Harvard University. Known for his aphorisms, he is most famous for coining the phrase: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Santayana's poetry has been set to music by several American composers, including John Duke and Alva Henderson.

Image: George Santayana, public domain

Print This Page


Born in Madrid, George Santayana grew up in Boston from the age of six. He was educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard University. At Harvard, he was a student of William James. Later, he taught at Harvard for 23 years and had many students who would have influential careers themselves in literature, philosophy, and the development of American culture, including Gertrude Stein, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.

Santayana’s work has become important in the history of philosophy in America. To learn more about his philosophical ideas and publications, please visit the links listed to the right.

–Christie Finn

Related Information


Sonnets and Other Verses

By George Santayana

Poems (George Santayana)

By George Santayana


Sheet Music

Songs, Vol. 1 (WorldCat)

Composer(s): John Duke

View via WorldCat

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.