“The Black Swan – The Magazine of Virginia” 1926-1931

“The Black Swan – The Magazine of Virginia” was a monthly magazine published in Richmond from December 1926 through January 1931. The initial publisher and owner was T. C Williams Jr. (1864-1929) who developed Windsor Farms and built Agecroft Hall. Williams died in February of 1929 at age 64. It appears the editorship as well as management responsibilities for the magazine were then assumed fully by T. Beverly Campbell (1891-1964).

During the ninety years since its last edition, “The Black Swan” has existed in obscurity. Most longstanding residents of Richmond’s West End have never heard of it.

Virginus Dabney’s 1976 “Richmond: Story of a City” includes this short reference: “Another magazine published briefly in Richmond was the Black Swan. Founded as a journal to
promote the Windsor Farms development, it became an independent publication in 1929, under the editorship of T. Beverly Campbell. During the remaining two years of life, short stories from the Black Swan were selected by both the O. Henry and O’Brien annual best short story compilations. The magazine was a victim of the Depression.”

The articles included updates on current events in Richmond’s social calendar, what was going on with local arts, original essays and poetry. The upcoming fox hunting calendar throughout the Virginia was a frequent topic. There were occasional cameo articles about specific homes being built in Windsor Farms at that time. One home is noted for being constructed of stone quarried in the immediate area. As may be expected given the original publisher, each edition had an advertisement for Windsor Farms.

The magazine grew in length over time. The first advertisements appeared in the July 1929 edition. The number and variety of advertisers expanded considerably in subsequent editions. Readers are regularly encouraged to consider the many advantages of a new, modern household appliance – the gas furnace. Another advertisement announces large private tracts of land available to purchase for waterfowl hunting. Today we know this area as Hatteras Island National Seashore.

The Black Swan” offers a fascinating window into the lives of Richmond’s affluent during the era of the “Roaring 20s”. The pages tell us much about the customs of the day, about how people entertained and traveled. As “The Black Swan” was published in the middle of Prohibition, it’s interesting to see editorial references to how “Wets” and “Drys” are expected to vote in an upcoming election. Some people may have been having way too much fun given the circumstance.

The September 1930 edition saw the page formatting change from 9×12 to 11×15¾. This is a magazine which saw itself becoming what we view today as a “coffee table book”. The editorial comment in the final January 1931 edition speaks with great enthusiasm about how far the magazine has come and all of the exciting plans for the upcoming year. And then, mysteriously, it stops.

William J. Longan, Jr
October 2022