Mary’s father and mother both died when she was 30. Free from her family responsibility, Mary decided to travel to Africa. She sailed from England early in 1893 and arrived in Angola in August of that year. She traveled to the interior and lived with local people. While she was there, she experienced a terrible storm. She later wrote: ” I was in the middle of a great forest when the storm began. The trees started to wave in the wind like grass. Then the rain came, hitting me so hard that it was like being beaten with a stick. I ran to some rocks, trying to find somewhere to hide. Suddenly, I saw a huge leopard in front of me. But instead of eating me, he just sat on the ground, his head back and his eyes shut, roaring at the sky and beating the ground with his tail. I ran and hid in a cave. When the terrible storm stopped, I locked out of the cave and was happy to see that the leopard was gone.
Mary retuned to England the following year, but in 1895 she retuned to West Africa and traveled in Cameroon. After her return to England in 1896, she began to write a book about her experience in Angola. Her book, called Travels in West Africa, was published in 1897. The book made her famous and two years later she published a book about Cameroon, called West African studies. She retuned to Africa the following year but, soon after arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, she caught a deadly disease and died.