The Old Manse is a handsome Georgian house located on Monument Street, Concord, Massachusetts by the Concord River. Built in 1770 by the Reverend William Emerson, its register of inhabitants resembles a student's reading list for a nineteenth-century American literature course. The transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, grandson of the reverend, lived here whilst writing Nature (1836); Nathaniel Hawthorne moved in with his bride, Sophia née Peabody, on 9th July, 1842; and Henry David Thoreau created a vegetable garden as a wedding present for the couple.
During his residency, Hawthorne published roughly twenty sketches and tales, later collected in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846). The essay he refers to here heads the collection.