Let’s back up just a tad. One of Mary’s recent friends was Isabella Robinson, a young unwed mother—and Mary helped Isabella conceal her situation from society. And—almost impossible to believe—from Isabella’s own family, none of whom ever seemed to know that she had been pregnant or that she’d delivered a child, daughter Adeline, an infant Isabella immediately sent to stay with a wet nurse.
Had the news of any of this emerged, of course, Isabella would have been ruined. With Mary’s aid, she began presenting herself (to those who did not know her) as one “Mrs. Douglas,” and Mary helped her construct an elaborate plan to escape to the Continent with her child—and with a husband.
The plot thickens.
As I’ve mentioned, another of Mary’s friends, Mary Diana Dods (aka “Doddy”), was writing and publishing as “David Lyndsay.” But Dods’ story was even more complicated. She cross-dressed, too, easily passing as a man. And so—with Mary Shelley’s encouragement—she adopted the identity of a man, Walter Sholto Douglas, and agreed to pass herself off as the husband of Isabella.
They successfully acquired passports and escaped to Paris, where Mary visited them in April 1828. Isabella and “Walter” would live together as husband and wife for about two years. And no one, it seems, was ever the wiser.