Mary’s link with Dundee is tenuous, but she does have a plaque here, in South Baffin
Street. She was the daughter William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, two of London’s most famous radical writers. Her mother died in childbirth and her father re-married. Mary did not get on with her stepmother, Mary Jane Clairemont, and her health was poor; she needed a break from London. so at 14 she was sent on the packet Osnaburgh to Dundee to stay with family friends, the Baxters. They were jute magnates and had a big house called ‘The Cottage’ on Ferry Road. Mary was described as ‘precocious and intellectual’.
“I lived principally in the country as a girl, and passed considerable time in Scotland. I made occasional visits to more picturesque parts; but my habitual residence was on the blank and dreary northern shores of the Tay, near Dundee. Blank and dreary on retrospection I call them; they were not so to me then. They were the eyry of freedom, and the pleasant region where unheeded I could commune with the creatures of my fancy. It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, or on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions of the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered “
It is said that Dundee inspired the setting for Mary’s famous novel Frankenstein. In 1814 Mary finally returned to London. She had known Percy Bysshe Shelley as a schoolgirl, now a young woman she met him again and they were instantly attracted. They eloped in July. Thereafter, the letter she sent to Isabel Baxter received only a nasty letter from Isabel’s fiancé; it was only after Percy’s death in 1822 that they became friends again.