A former member of the Brandeis History faculty, Frank Edward Manuel was among the most respected European intellectual historians of the twentieth century. Manuel was born on September 12, 1910, in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University, earning his A.B. in 1930, his M.A. in 1931, and his Ph.D. in 1933. He also attended Ecole des Hautes Etudes Politiques et Sociales in Paris in 1933.
Manuel returned to Harvard as a member of the department of History, Government, and Economics in 1935. The next year, on October 6, 1936, Manuel married Fritzie Prigohzy, beginning a personal and intellectual partnership that lasted until his death in 2003. After leaving Harvard in 1937, he had short stints with the National Defense Commission, Office of Price Administration, and Western Reserve University before arriving at Brandeis in 1949. Manuel taught in the History and Psychology departments at Brandeis until 1965, when he took a position at New York University. Manuel returned to Brandeis as Alfred and Viola Hart University Professor in 1977. Upon his retirement in 1986, Manuel became Professor Emeritus, a title he retained until his death. Manuel also held many visiting professorships at universities including Harvard University, Oxford University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Boston University.
Manuel's wide-ranging scholarly interests inspired groundbreaking works on utopias, Christian Hebraism, historiography, and philosophers such as Isaac Newton, Karl Marx, and Henri Saint- Simon. A prolific author, he wrote, co-wrote, or edited 20 books. His most popular work, Utopian Thought in the Western World (written with his wife), won the American Book Award. Other notable publications included The Politics of Modern Spain (1938), The Age of Reason (1951), The New World of Henri Saint-Simon (1956), The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods (1959), Shapes of Philosophical History (1965), A Portrait of Isaac Newton (1968), Freedom from History (1971), The Changing of the Gods (1983), The Broken Staff: Judaism Through Christian Eyes (1992), A Requiem for Karl Marx (1995), and Scenes from the End: The Last Days of World War II in Europe (2000). Even as he approached age 90, Manuel remained active. Shortly before his death he was near completion on the book, Varieties of Historical Experience, and in 2004, his wife published their coauthored work, James Bowdoin and the Patriot Philosophers.
Manuel was the recipient of numerous awards. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1957-58, a Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences Fellow in 1962-1963, and a Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar in 1978. He was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Along with the American Book Award, Utopian Thought in the Western World won the Melcher Prize and the Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Award. Manuel received honorary degrees from the following institutions: Union Theological Seminary (1979); Brandeis University (1986); and the Hebrew-Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (1998).