Christiane Sourvinou was born at Volos, Greece, at the foot of Mount Pelion, the daughter of a soldier and a teacher. She spent her childhood on the island of Corfu and in Athens. She was awarded first-class honours in the Classics course at Athens University before going on to advanced studies in Rome, Birmingham and Oxford University. In 1976-1978, after holding two Oxford research fellowships, she was a lecturer in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. In 1989 she became an honorary research fellow at University College London, and from 1990 to 1995 she held a senior research fellowship at University College, Oxford. She then moved to a readership at the University of Reading. During this time, she wrote numerous important books and scholarly articles on ancient Greek culture and religion. Many of her papers were collected together in 'Reading' Greek Culture (1991), followed in 1996 by 'Reading' Greek Death. Much of her thinking on Greek tragedy was brought together in Tragedy and Athenian Religion (2004), which grew from the Carl Newell Jackson lectures she had delivered at Harvard 10 years earlier. Under the name Christiana Elfwood, she published a murder novel in modern Greek, translated into English version as Murder Most Classical (2007).