He was born at Eperjes, now in Prešov in Slovakia. After studying law and philosophy at the high schools of his native town and Miskolc, he travelled abroad. England particularly attracted him, and his book, Aus dem Tagebuch eines in Grossbritannien reisenden Ungarns (From the Diary of a Hungarian Travelling in Britain) (Pesth, 1837), gained for him the membership of the Hungarian Academy.
Elected to the Diet of Hungary of 1840, he was in 1848 appointed to a financial post in the Hungarian government, and was transferred in like capacity to Vienna under Esterházy. Suspected of intriguing with the revolutionists, Pulszky fled to Budapest to avoid arrest. Here he became an active member of the committee of national defence, and when obliged to fly the country he joined Lajos Kossuth in England and with him made a tour in the United States. In collaboration with his wife he wrote a narrative of this voyage, entitled White, Red, Black (2 vols., London, 1853).
He was condemned to death (1852) in contumaciam by a council of war. In 1860 he went to Italy, took part in Giuseppe Garibaldi's ill-fated expedition to Rome (1862), and was interned as a prisoner of war in Naples. Amnestied by the emperor of Austria in 1866, he returned home and reentered public life; was from 1867-1876, and again in 1884, a member of the newly reformed Diet of Hungary, joining the Deák party.
In addition to his political activity, he was president of the literary section of the Hungarian Academy, and director of the National Museum at Budapest, where he became distinguished for his archaeological researches. He employed his great influence to promote both art and science and Liberal views in his native country. He died in Budapest, 9 September 1897.
He was initiated in 1860 at Lodge Dante Alighieri in Turin, and was soon raised to the 33rd grade of the Scottish Rite. After his return to Hungary he contributed to the re-establishment of Hungarian freemasonry. First he became Master of the Lodge "Einigkeit in Vaterland/Egység a hazában” (Unity in the Homeland), then he became the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of St. John. After the establishment of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary (from the Grand Lodge of St. John and the Grand Orient at 1886) he became the first Grand Master of the united Grand Lodge. In 1875 he supported Countess Helene Hadik Barkóczy's initiation into a Masonic lodge.
Among his writings are Die Jacobiner in Ungarn (The Jacobins in Hungary) (Leipzig, 1851) and Életem és korom (My Life and Times) (Pest, 1880), and many treatises on Hungarian questions in the publications of the Hungarian Academy of Pest.
- János György Szilágyi, "A Forty-Eighter's Vita Contemplativa: Ferenc Pulszky (1814-1889)", The Hungarian Quarterly, 39:149 (Spring 1998) 
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Pulszky, Ferencz Aurel". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. This work in turn cites:
- F. W. Newman, Reminiscences of Kossuth and Pulszky, 1888
- Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Pulszky, Franz Aurelius". Encyclopedia Americana.
- "Ferenc Pulszky". szk.wikispaces.com (Hungarian Masonic Wiki). Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- Vári László (2012). "Hadik-Barkóczy Ilona és a szabadkőművesek (Helene Hadik-Barkóczy and the Freemasons)". Aetas (in Hungarian) 27 (3): 49–62.