Irving Fiske

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Irving Fiske (March 5, 1908 – April 25, 1990) born Irving Fishman in Brooklyn, New York, was a playwright, inventor, freelance writer, and speaker. He is associated with Quarry Hill Creative Center, the Fiske family property, in Rochester, Vermont.


Fiske, a 1928 graduate of Cornell University, was born in Brooklyn, NY to an immigrant Jewish family from Georgia, Russia, and Rumania. He had two brothers, Milton and Robert, and a sister, Miriam. Milton was a Bohemian, like Irving, and a classical composer, like his hero, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with whom he shared a birthday. Irving had worked for the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s, had written for H. L. Mencken’s American Mercury, had corresponded with George Bernard Shaw, had written an article now considered a classic, "Bernard Shaw’s Debt to William Blake", and had translated Shakespeare's Hamlet into Modern English. This was considered a controversial literary action at the time. John Ciardi, who did not approve, reprinted excerpts in the Saturday Review. Most readers wrote in favor of the translation.

In the mid-1960s, Fiske began to give talks on Tantric Yoga and other religions and philosophies at the Gallery Gwen in New York's East Village. Many associated him with Robert Crumb's mischievous comic book guru Mr. Natural. Hundreds of young people, including many who became well-known such as Art Spiegelman (who dated Fiske's daughter Isabella[1]) and Stephen Huneck, began to visit the Fiske family property, Quarry Hill Creative Center, in Rochester, Vermont; many stayed to build houses, and Quarry Hill became the oldest (founded 1946) and largest alternative lifestyle group in Vermont, and one of the largest in New England.

Irving Fiske's Centennial (March 5, 1908 – 2008) was celebrated in Vermont and in Florida in 2008.


  • The New York Times, May 1, 1990: “Irving L. Fiske, 82: Created Community for Workers in Arts”
  • The Boston Sunday Globe, April 29, 1990: “Irving Fiske, noted for essays, modern version of Hamlet; at 82.” by Kevin Dotson, Contributing Reporter
  • The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, April 30, 1990: “Communal Living Pioneer Irving Fiske dead at 82”
  • The Rutland (Vt.) Herald, April 29, 1990. by Monica Allen, Sunday Staff Writer.
  • The Herald of Randolph (Vt.) May 3, 1990: “Quarry Hill Founder Dead at 82”
  • The Gainesville (Florida) Sun, April 1990: “Author Irving Fiske, “Socrates of Ocala Forest,” dies at 82. By Mitch Stacy, Sun Staff Writer.
  • The International Herald Tribune, May 1990.

Quarry Hill in the media[edit]

  • METAMAUS, by Art Spiegelman. New York: Pantheon, 2011. PP. 24–25
  • Story on Fiske family women in The Herald of Randolph
  • The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, October 14, 1987. “Quarry Hill Players stage play written by Vermonters.” --Brighter than the Sun by Irving Fiske and Allen Sherman.
  • Vermont Life Magazine Spring, 1998: “Rochester Renaissance” by M. Dickey Drysdale.
  • Vermont Life, Winter, 1978. Vermont craftsman Alan Stirt: “Al Stirt, Bowlmaker,” article by Ladybelle Fiske, photography by William Fiske.
  • Walter Winchell: Broadway Newsstand column on G. B. Shaw and Irving Fiske—late 1940s or early 1950s.
  • “Total Freedom” by Timothy Miller, University of Kansas. From the 2002 CESNUR International Conference: “Minority Religions, Social Change, and Freedom of Conscience” (Salt Lake City and Provo (Utah), June 20–23, 2002)
  • “Not a commune—just Fiske and all his friends” by Debbie Ibert.
  • Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, Florida, May 25, 1971. Letters to the Editor. “Not a “Hippy,” by Irving Fiske.
  • The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, May 6, 1990: “Leaderless Commune Seeks Peace.” by Sam Hemingway, Columnist


  1. ^ Spiegelman, Art (2011). MetaMaus. New York: Random House. pp. 24–25.