Henry Forbes Julian, mining engineer and metallurgist, was the son of Henry Julian, a coach builder, and his wife Marie. He received his schooling in Cork, Ireland, and from the age of thirteen in Bolton, Lancashire. Later he studied chemistry at Owen's College, Manchester, and at South Kensington, London. In October 1886 he came to Natal and was employed as a metalurgist and analyst. Later he became a consulting engineer and mine manager in the gold mine districts of Natal and at Barberton, Johnnesburg and Kimberley. He remained in South Africa for seven years during which time he invented and patented the Patent Electrical Chemical Gold and Silver Extracting Apparatus. To market this device he set up a limited company of which he was the managing director and major shareholder.
In 1893 Julian moved to Germany where he worked as technical adviser on mining and metalurgy to the Deutsche Gold and Silver Scheide Anstalt in Frankfurt. Two years later he settled in south Devon, England. He travelled regularly in connection with his work, visiting among others Mexico, the United States, Canada, the West Indies, and Eastern Europe. In October 1902 he married Hester Pengelly and settled in Torquay, Devon.
In 1904 Julian and Edgar Smart* published Cyaniding gold and silver ores..., a practical treatise dealing with both technical and commercial investigations of the cyanide process, the theory and practice of the chemistry on which it is based, working methods, and the design, construction and cost of the necessary plant. It included references to mining methods on the Witwatersrand. Several later editions were published up to 1921.
Julian was a member of the (British) Institution of Mining and Metallurgy and in 1903 became a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1905 he attended the joint meeting in South Africa of the British and South African Associations for the Advancement of Science. At one of the meetings in Johannesburg, on 29 August, he delivered a paper titled "How oxygen assists and retards the dissolution of gold in cyanide solutions". His experiments showed that oxygen does not play a primary role in the reaction as was commonly believed, but that its secondary effects could either advance or retard the reaction at different stages. The paper was included in the Addresses and papers... published after the meeting (Vol. 1, pp. 199-210).
After his death in the Titanic disaster in 1912 his wife published Memorials of Henry Forbes Julian... (London, 1914), describing his life and work. An introductory notice to the work was contributed by H. Livingstone Sulman*.