She is the daughter of the film producer Richard B. Goodwin and the interior decorator Jocasta Innes. Her half-brother is the writer Jason Goodwin, whom her father adopted. Her great-great-great grandfather was Robert Traill, whose character she included in an episode of the second season of her TV drama "Victoria" which addressed the Irish Great Famine. Traill was played by Martin Compston.
After attending Queen's College, London and Westminster School, Goodwin studied history at Trinity College, Cambridge and attended Columbia Film School before joining the BBC as a trainee arts producer in 1985. In 1998, she moved to Talkback Productions as head of factual programmes, and in 2005, founded Silver River Productions. Her first novel, My Last Duchess, was published in the UK in August 2010  and, under the title The American Heiress, in the U.S. and Canada in June 2011. She has also published eight poetry anthologies and a memoir entitled Silver River, and was chairman of the judging panel for the 2010 Orange Prize for women's fiction. She has presented television shows including Essential Poems (To Fall In Love With) (2003) and Reader, I Married Him (2006). She is the author of the 2016 novel, Victoria (9781250045461), and the creator and writer of the TV series Victoria airing in the UK on ITV, and in the US on PBS/Masterpiece in January 2017.
Goodwin is married to Marcus Wilford, an ABC TV executive; they have two daughters. She appeared in the BBC television documentary Public School about Westminster directed by Jonathan Gili, and as part of the winning Trinity College, Cambridge team on the Christmas University Challenge BBC2, 27 December 2011. In 2012, she appeared on a Children in Need special episode of "Only Connect" alongside Charlie Higson and Matthew Parris.
Between 1998 and 2005 Goodwin worked as a producer or editor on shows including:
- How Clean Is Your House? (Channel 4)
- Jamie's Kitchen (Channel 4)
- Would Like To Meet (BBC2)
- House Doctor (Channel 5)
- Grand Designs (Channel4)
- Other People's Houses (Channel 4)
- Your Money or Your Life (BBC2)
- Property Ladder (Channel 4)
- Life Doctor (Channel 5)
- Life Laundry (BBC2)
- Fame, Set and Match (BBC2)
- Escape to the Country (BBC2)
- She's Gotta Have It (Channel 4)
- Don't Look Down (BBC2)
- Lipstick Years (BBC2)
- Pulling (2006)
- Bringing Up Baby (2007)
- I'm Running Sainsbury's (2009)
- The Supersizers... (2008-2009)
- Off By Heart (2009)
- Grow Your Own Drugs (2009)
- Kevin's Grand Tour (2009)
- If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home (2011)
- Victoria (2016-)
- Victoria (2016-), a cameo role as Lady Cecilia Underwood, Duchess of Inverness, Episode 6 "The Queen's Husband".
- The Fortune Hunter (2014)
- My Last Duchess (2010), published in the U.S. and Canada as The American Heiress (2011)
- Off by Heart (2009)
- Silver River (2007)
- Bringing Up Baby: The New Mother's Companion (2007)
- The Nation's Favourite: Love Poems (1997)
- Victoria (2016)
- Victoria and Albert: A Royal Love Affair (2017)
- Essential Poems for the Way We Live Now (2005)
- Essential Poems for Children: First Aid for Frantic Parents (2005)
- Poems to Last a Lifetime (2004)
- Essential Poems to Fall in Love With (2003)
- 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life (2003)
- 101 Poems to Get You Through the Day and Night: A Survival Kit for Modern Life (2003)
- 101 Poems to Keep You Sane: Emergency Rations for the Seriously Stressed (2003)
- 101 Poems To Help You Understand Men (and Women) (2003)
Action for Children
- 100 Poems to see You Through (2014). A special anthology of poems with all proceeds going to Maggie's Centres.
Women's Prize for Fiction
- Chair of Women's Prize for Fiction (2010), then known by sponsor's name as Orange Prize for Fiction.
- IMDb: Richard B. Goodwin
- Guardian: "Ride on - Caroline Miller follows Daisy Goodwin on a journey through her family's history in Silver River"
- Obituary: Jocasta Innes, telegraph.co.uk, 23 April 2013
- Rennison, Nick (29 August 2010). "A class act". The Sunday Times Culture. p. 49.
- Janet Maslin (26 June 2011). "Books of the Times: Money May Not Buy You Love, but It Might Help You Land a Spouse". The New York Times.
- Arifa Akbar (17 March 2010). "Spare me the misery lit, says Orange Prize judge". The Independent.
- David Brockman (14 March 2003, last modified 10 January 2009). "Poetry in motion". Transdiffusion. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-12. Check date values in:
- Tony Rennell (26 August 2016). "Victoria's Secret". Daily Mail.
- Duff, Oliver (6 June 2005). "Daisy Goodwin: My Life In Media". London: The Independent. Retrieved 30 April 2010.