Fay Godwin was born in Berlin and spent the early part of her life abroad, travelling with diplomatic parents. She did not take up photography until the mid 1960s when she started to make pictures of her children, and she was largely self-taught, having mastered the rudiments of developing and printing before she met her first ‘teacher’, the photographer Euan Duff. By the early 1970s she was working professionally, in public relations, social documentary and making a series of portraits of writers for book jackets. Her inclusion in Bill Brandt’s important survey of landscape photography The Land (Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1976) established her reputation. The work that cemented this began on a holiday in the Lake District following the walks described in Alfred Wainwright’s guides. Godwin became interested in making a book which described a walk easily accessible from her home in London; the result was a study of the Ridgeway, the ancient track that runs from the prehistoric monuments of Avebury to the Thames Valley. This resulted in the book The Oldest Road, published in 1976. Godwin’s early work was often discussed in the context of a then resurgence of landscape photography in Britain, but her approach was distinct from that of other photographers in this field. Whereas many had chosen to isolate small features of the landscape (water, rocks, vegetation) as ‘equivalents’ for states of mind, Godwin’s work was essentially descriptive, recording the specific and objective: the man-made landmark, groups of buildings, the characteristic lines of a particular stretch of land. The power of her photographs lay in her instinct for picture-making and the patience with which she waited for the exact accidents of weather and light to complete the composition, so fixing an image of a place beyond mere topography.