Very Real" --
Hughes In Richmond, Virginia
Special Collections and Archives
James Branch Cabell Library
||When Langston Hughes visited Richmond, Virginia on Friday, November 19, 1926, it marked his first reading in the South. Hughes was an emerging poet of the Harlem Renaissance when he spoke at the chapel at Virginia Union University. On Thursday evening, the night before his reading, Hughes attended a small party given in his honor in the Richmond home of Hunter Stagg, remembered best as one of the founding editors of The Reviewer, a Richmond literary magazine that received national attention in the 1920s. The inter-racial party was quite daring for 1920s Richmond. "If Thursday evening in my library can by any stretch of imagination be called a party," Stagg wrote a friend, "it should go down in history as the first purely social affair given by a white for a Negro in the Ancient and Honorable Commonwealth of Virginia."
Stagg would write favorably of Hughes in his Richmond News Leader literary column March 21, 1927. Stagg wrote that Hughes' work should
be recognized "as the authentic artistic expression of something
in human nature, we are not quite prepared to say what, only that we are
sure it is something very real."
Hunter Stagg, 1920s
.Photograph of Langston Hughes (1902-67), 1939, by Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964), 1983 photogravure from 1939 negative - Eakins Press Foundation, Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
This online exhibit explores the
little known visit by Langston Hughes
to Richmond. Included here is information on both Hughes
and Stagg, and their mutual friend, writer and photographer Carl Van
Vechten (1880-1964). A bibliography/links page enables researchers to continue to investigate
Much of the text and research for this project was based
on the 2003/2004 work of Cindy Jackson, a graduate student in VCU's English Department
and research assistant in Special
Collections and Archives. Ms. Jackson would like to thank Dr. Edgar MacDonald, Cabell Scholar-in-Residence,
for his initial research on Hunter Stagg published in the Ellen Glasgow
Newsletter, no. 7, October 1977, entitled "The Reception of Two Black
Artists in Mid-1920s Richmond."
"Image of Langston Hughes (1902-67), 1939, by Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964), 1983 photogravure from 1939 negative
copyright Eakins Press Foundation, Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery. The image of Hunter Stagg, ca.1925, from Special Collections
and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library.