Mary was Charlotte's most intellectually-aligned friend. They met as tearful, nervous and homesick new girls at Roe Head School in Mirfield in January 1831. Charlotte was 14 and Mary was 13. They went on to have a lifelong friendship. Mary was a valuable foil to Charlotte's serious nature. Her daring and confident nature was probably blessed relief to Charlotte's timid, melancholic manner.
Charlotte based the character 'Rose Yorke' in her novel Shirley on Mary. In 1845 she emigrated to New Zealand, leaving a woeful Charlotte saying, ‘to me it is something as if a great planet has fallen out of the sky’. She later sent her friend a gift of £10 to buy a cow. Fifteen years later she returned to England and Gomersal. She died in 1893 aged 76.