my childhood's companion and friend
Isabel Baxter became Mary's close friend almost by accident. Mary's early adolescence had been troubled, particularly fractious where her stepmother was involved; and Godwin decided that some distance would have a salutary effect on her rebelliousness. He contacted a radical acquaintance from the 1790s, Richard Baxter, a Scotsman who was a good friend of his own friend David Booth, who agreed to accept Mary into his family in Dundee. There at the age of fourteen she took up a happy residence that, as this account indicates, combined a closeness to nature with a warm affection for the Baxters' middle daughter Isabel. With this family she resided from June to November 1812, and from June 1813 to March 1814. Her elopement with the married Percy Bysshe Shelley not long after her return from this second residence ruptured her friendship, since David Booth, who had married Isabel in the meantime, refused to allow his wife to continue her intimacy with a woman who had so abandoned customary propriety.