Sappho: Love And Life On Lesbos

Sappho: Love And Life On LesbosThe BBC spelling of Lesvos as Lesbos is a little embarrassing but I have presented the programme title and review as written by the BBC. Please accept my apologies.

With a PhD in Papyrology, Margaret Mountford (The Apprentice) goes in search of the truth behind the legend of Sappho, the most controversial writer of the ancient world and the first authentic woman’s voice in western history. 

Watch the full program on YouTube here.

A lost papyrus inspires Margaret to go on a journey of exploration. From the fragmentary documents, ruined temple architecture and surviving oriental jewellery, we conjure the real world of the woman, whose erotic writings gave us the words ‘sapphic’ and ‘lesbian’, after the island of Lesbos the place of her birth.

Was Sappho indeed the first lesbian – a priestess, prostitute, stern schoolmistress or aristocratic lady of leisure, as readers over the centuries have variously alleged? Margaret looks at how each generation’s view of the archetypal liberated woman of letters tells us as much about us and our fears and concerns as it does about her.

Commissioned by Greg Sanderson, BBC Commissioning Editor, Arts, Music & Events, the 1×60 film is produced by Maya Vision International’s Sally Thomas and directed by Jack MacInnes.

Visit the BBC website Sappho: Love And Life On Lesbos


When you start looking for information about Sappho it is easy to become very confused. Every writer has a different opinion about her. There are a few things that remain undisputed.

  • She was born in Eressos
  • She was born about 620 BCE
  • She wrote poetry

We hope to bring you a more up to date page soon.

In the meantime, you can read one view of Sappho Wikipedia.

There is also a new book:

Sappho A New Translation of the Complete Works

A New Translation of the Complete Works

Edited and translated by:
Diane Rayor

Published by:
Cambridge University Press