Sappho: Love And Life On Lesbos With Margaret Mountford

Wednesday 6 May



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.

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 1x60 film is produced by Maya Vision International’s Sally Thomas and directed by Jack MacInnes.