Born in Nottingham on 28 February 1863. A Sunday school scholar at Mansfield Road WM, Nottingham, he became a local preacher at 17. He served his apprenticeship with Jacoby & Co, being appointed manager at 21. In 1888 he set up his own firm of A.W. Black & Bros., lace manufacturers. He was a member of the committee which in 1900 led to the purchase of the Nottingham WM Mission's original Albert Hall (destroyed by fire in 1906). He was Circuit Steward, 1902-1907. As Chairman of the Nottingham Free Church Council, in 1902 he took part in a demonstration against the Education Bill. In 1903 he was a member of Alfred Mosely's Commission of Inquiry into the educational systems of the United States with the aim of bolstering Britain's industrial competitiveness.
In politics a Liberal, he was a Nottingham councillor, Sheriff of Nottingham in 1898, and Mayor in 1902, and from 1906 to 1918 was MP for Biggleswade. He was knighted in 1916. In 1935 he donated a building known in Nottingham as 'Springfield', and some ten years later a further home called 'South Bank', to the . The Sir Arthur Black Charities continue to award between £11,000 and £15,000 annually to causes in Nottingham. He died on 13 July 1947.