The book is an autobiography from the point of view of the titular horse, named Black Beauty. The first part of the book deals with Beauty's birth in a meadow, his time spent as a foal with his mother and the advice she gives him to behave well to be treated well. Then he is sold to the Squire Gordon who is a horse lover and cares very well for his animals. Here he meets the grooms John Manly and James Howard who are loving, neat and efficient. Beauty spends the better part of three years here and makes friends with the other horses: Ginger, Merrylegs and Sir Oliver. This idyllic life ends with the beginning of the second part where Beauty is sold, along with Ginger to Earlshall Park. The life is harder there and the painful bearing rein is used on the horses. A riding accident causes his knees to be ruined and he is sold as a job horse to a new master who cannot take the trouble of rearing a horse and sells him again. Next, Beauty is sold to a hardworking cab driver called Jerry. On the runs in the streets he meets his friend Ginger who is miserable due to the harsh treatment meted out to her and subsequently he watches her corpse being carted away a few months later. Jerry falls ill and Beauty is sold again. The horse then passes from one master to another, most of whom overwork and mistreat him till at last he is sold to the Blomefield family for whom his old groom Joe Green is working. Green recognizes Beauty and he lives out his last days in peace and happiness.