Isobel spent her life between Edinburgh and Dundee, and in both cities she held a prominent place for over forty years among women engaging in public work in Scotland, her main interest being education. She lived in one of the terraced houses in Springfield between 1894 and 1910 when her husband was editor of the Dundee Advertiser, then the couple moved to Edinburgh when he was appointed director of the Museum of Science & Art in that city. For three years from 1906 she served on the Dundee School Board and the Free Libraries Committee, representing the latter on the board of University College, and was described as a “vigorous & intelligent member”.

Profoundly interested and versed in educational theory; she founded a movement to encourage bulb culture among school children, and she organised gardens for every school, with bulbs donated and an annual exhibition in the Drill Hall in Ward Road. Isobel was also into politics: she was one of the founders of Dundee Women’s Liberal Association and an admirable public speaker. She was described as an “arresting & engaging personality, possessed in high degree of the gift of winning friendships”.