Born in Germany in 1931 to a British diplomat father and an American artist mother, Fay Godwin was one of the most acclaimed British landscape photographers of the twentieth century, famed for her collaboration with Ted Hughes and her belief in the right to roam the countryside.
Moving to London in 1958 she became interested in photography at the relatively late age of 35 after she began taking pictures her two young children. In 1975 The Oldest Road, a book she co-authored with J R L Anderson was published and in 1978 she was the recipient of a major Arts Council award, enabling her to continue her work photographing the landscapes of the British Isles. The ensuing series, Land was subsequently exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery and published as a monograph in 1985. Having worked with Hughes on The Remains of Elmet, a collection of poems and photographs, Godwin went on to collaborate with other writers including Philip Larkin, Salman Rushdie and former Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams.
In 1986 Fay was the first photographer to be featured in a full length documentary on the South Bank Show, ITV. In 1990, the same year in which she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society, Godwin embarked on a six week lecture and workshop tour of New Zealand. In 1995 she was the recipient of the Northern Arts of the Year Award and commissioned to document the contribution of small farmers to the character of the Cumbrian countryside. In 2001 a major retrospective of her work was held at the Barbican Gallery, the following year Godwin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by De Montfort University.
Godwin died in May 2005 aged 74.