Frances Burney was above all things a professional writer, many-sided and courageous. She often depicted herself as modest and fearful, but this was only part of her character and not the most important part. She embraced inconsistencies and changed with her times. Her eighty-seven years began in the reign of George II and ended five years after the accession of Queen Victoria. She was witness to George III's madness, the trial of Warren Hastings, and the carnage after Waterloo. In her private diaries she wrote about this and much else. She forced on the reading public themes they were scarcely ready to accept. Though she wrote mainly comedy, the subjects of her four novels and eight plays are intimate violence, the depredations of the new money, and the frustrations bordering on torment experienced by single, middle-class women. Because of her novels, said Edmund Burke, 'writing like a lady' had become a compliment any man would be proud to accept.