Manning was born in St. John, New Brunswick and attended Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As did his two older brothers, Manning signed up to participate in WWI, but he was too young - he was still in training, and never saw action overseas. He signed his attestation papers for the RFC on 14 May 1918.
In the 1920s he moved to the United States, living initially with his great uncle, Craven Langstroth Betts, the noted Canadian poet. In the USA, he lived in Manhattan before moving to Staten Island in 1928, where he began writing short stories for several pulp science fiction magazines. After teaming with SF writer Fletcher Pratt in "City of the Living Dead" in the May, 1930 issue of Science Wonder Stories, he wrote "The Voyage of the 'Asteroid'", which appeared in the Summer 1932 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly, and The Man Who Awoke, a series of stories that was later published as a novel. He also translated at least one German-language story for Hugo Gernsback's magazines (this may have been the translation of his popular story "The Man Who Awoke," published as Der Jartausendschlafer (The Millennium Sleeper). However, In the July, August and September, 1932 issues of Wonder Stories appeared "In the Year 8000", by Otfrid von Hanstein, translated by Manning, teamed with Konrad Schmidt.
Manning gave up his successful writing career at the end of 1935 (with the exceptions of "Coal Thief" in the April, 1936 The Planeteer and "Expedition to Pluto" in the winter, 1939 Planet Stories), and devoted his time to Kelsey mail order nursery business he owned and managed. Apart from several short stories in the 1950s (Good-Bye, Ilha!, Mr. Mottle Goes Pouf, Men on Mars), he never wrote any more science fiction. However, he was the author of a successful book on gardening, The How and Why of Better Gardening (1951), Van Nostrand & Co, used for more than 40 years as a textbook by the Garden Clubs of America.
He was a founding member of the American Interplanetary Society, serving as both president and editor of the Society's publication, Astronautics. For his involvement in the Society, Manning is recognized by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum as an early rocketry pioneer. It was during his tenure as president of the society that the organization's name was changed to the American Rocket Society. Manning retired from the Society in the mid-1940s, stating that rocketry had 'grown up', and was no longer a place for amateurs. In 1960, Manning was awarded a fellowship in the Society, presumably given at the Society's annual meeting.
Manning married Edith Mary Finette Burrows in 1928 and had three children: Helen Louise, Dorothy, and James Edward. His daughter Dorothy has mentioned that Lawrence was not only a skilled writer, but a pianist as well. He composed his own pieces, primarily as Music Director of his church, though never published any. He also smoked pipe. He lived in Highlands, New Jersey from 1951 until his death in 1972.
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