The Minister's Black Veil was first published in the 1836 edition of
The Token and
Atlantic Souvenir. It later appeared in
Twice-Told Tales, a collection of short stories by Hawthorne published in 1837. Hawthorne's inspiration for this story may have been a true event. A clergyman named Joseph Moody of York, Maine, nicknamed "Handkerchief Moody", accidentally killed a friend when he was a young man and wore a black veil from the man's funeral until his own death. The story concerns the minister of a small town who suddenly and inexplicably begins wearing a black veil that hangs from his forehead and covers his eyes and nose. As one charater in the story says, "He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face." Hawthorne thus creates a dramtic story based around two of his common themes - the effects of secrecy and guilt.