John R. Erickson is an American cowboy and author, best known for his Hank the Cowdog series of children's novels.
Born in Midland, Texas, he grew up in Perryton, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966, and spent two years at Harvard Divinity School. He began publishing short stories in 1967, while still working as a cowboy and ranch manager, in Texas and Oklahoma. Hank and Drover are both dogs he'd worked with at the ranch.
In 1982, Erickson, after receiving numerous rejection slips from large publishers, borrowed $2,000 and began his own publishing company, Maverick Books. Hank the Cowdog debuted in The Cattleman, and two related short stories appeared in the first book published by Maverick Books, The Devil in Texas. Erickson began selling books out of his pickup truck wherever cowboys gathered.
Erickson soon found himself receiving letters addressed to Hank, and soon afterward, in 1983, published the first full-length book in the series, The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog. His 2,000-book first printing ran out in six weeks. With the book's success, he shortly afterward recorded the book word-for-word, on audio tape. Hank the Cowdog has since become the longest-running successful children's series on audio.
That book has since spawned over fifty sequels, becoming one of the most popular children's fiction series, selling more than 6.5 million books and winning several awards. The full series of books and tapes are usually available in most school libraries around the United States. His books are endorsed by the Texas Library Association and have, for two years, been serial in The Dallas Morning News. His "Hank the Cowdog" series is now popular in Iran and has been translated into Persian.
Erickson has written over 55 books, and is frequently invited to perform, reading book selections and singing songs, in classrooms and school libraries. He lives in Perryton with a wife and three children.