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Severus Snape: Data

I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death -- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
     -- Severus Snape (PS8)

     -- Severus Snape (HBP28)

Young Severus Snape by Lisa M. Rourke.On this page:

Related pages:

Birth name:
Severus Snape.
'Severus' meaning:
'Severus' has obvious connotations of severity and strictness. There are also several saints with the name 'Severus.'
'Snape' meaning: JKR says "Snape is an English village" (WEB LINKeT), probably the one in North Yorkshire near Hadrian’s (aka Severus’) Wall. This village also has a 'WEB LINKSnape Castle.' There is another Snape Village that is near Saxmundham, northeast of Ipswich near the Alde River.
snape (v.) - 'to be hard upon, rebuke, snub,' c.1300, from Old Norse sneypa 'to outrage, dishonor, disgrace.' (WEB LINKetymonline)
sneap: to nip; pinch; put down; repress; snub (WEB LINKphrontistery).
Other names: Other names: ‘Sev’ which was Lily’s nickname for him, ‘Snivellus,’ used by James to ridicule him; the 'Half-blood Prince' a pun Snape made on his mother's maiden name.

Drawing of Severus Snape by Red Scharlach.FAMILY
January 9 (JKR) 1960 (year based on James's dates-DH16).
May 1, 1998, during the Battle of Hogwarts, about an hour before the dawn (DH32).
Mother: Eileen Prince (witch --HBP30).
Father: Tobias Snape (Muggle --HBP30).
Childhood: Appears to have had an abusive father (OP26, DH33).
Location of childhood home: A brick row house on Spinner's End by a river (DH33), in what appears to be a rundown area of an industrial city in northern England (HBP2).
Relationships: Severus loved childhood friend Lily Evans faithfully, but in a possessive, obsessive way, until he died. In 1999, Rowling was asked if Snape had ever fallen in love. Here's what she said: WEB LINKexcerpt from "The Connection" interview, October 12, 1999 [mp3 audio].

Hair: black and greasy, shoulder length.
Eyes: black.
Complexion: sallow, also described as very pale.
Distinguishing features: long, hooked nose, scowl; Dark Mark on left forearm but not always clearly visible. While Snape is repeatedly compared to a bat, he is not a vampire (WBD).

Severus Snape, artwork by Riikka Jantti.Descriptions from the books:

  • At 9-years old: "sallow, small, stringy." "His black hair was overlong and his clothes were so mismatched that it looked deliberate: too short jeans, a shabby, overlarge coat that might have belonged to a grown man, an odd smocklike shirt." (DH33)
  • "Snape-the-teenager had a stringy, pallid look about him, like a plant kept in the dark. His hair was lank and greasy and was flopping onto the table, his hooked nose barely half an inch from the surface of the parchment as he scribbled" (OP28).
  • "a professor with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin." (PS7)
  • "His eyes were black like Hagrid’s, but they had none of Hagrid’s warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels" (PS8).
  • "uneven, yellow-ish teeth" (PA14).

Years: 1971 - 1978.
House: Slytherin (WEB LINKJKR website).
Career: Hired as Potions Master & Head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts in c.1980 (OP17); made Defense against the Dark Arts professor in 1996 and Hogwarts Headmaster in August, 1997 (DH12).
Potions office: When he taught Potions it was located adjacent to the dungeon classroom where he taught the Potions classes.
Potions classroom: Cold and dark, the walls were lined with glass jars with slimy bits of some animal or plant (OP26).
Dark Arts classroom:
His Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom was dark and gloomy with pictures of people "in pain, sporting grisly injuries or strangely contorted body parts." (HBP9).
Headmaster's office: When Snape became Headmaster, he did not change the Headmaster's office much (at least Harry didn't notice anything) (DH33).
Portrait: Harry made sure that Snape's abdication did not deny him the honor of having his portrait hand with the rest of the Hogwarts Headmasters (OBT/CH).
From the books:

  • Sirius Black: "Snape’s always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school" (GF25).
  • Sirius Black: "Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in the seventh year and he was part of a gang of Slytherins who nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters" (GF25).

Young Severus Snape, by Makani copyright 2004SNAPE at HOME
We finally get a glimpse of Snape's house when Narcissa and Bellatrix pay a visit. It is located on Spinner's End in a dreary, rundown industrial city in northern England.

The interior is dreary too: "a tiny sitting room, which had the feeling of a dark, padded cell. The walls were completely covered in books, most of them bound in old black or brown leather; a threadbare sofa, an old armchair, and a rickety table stood grouped together in a pool of dim light cast by a candle-filled lamp hung from the ceiling. The place had an air of neglect, as though it was not usually inhabited." (HBP2) Wormtail (aka Peter Pettigrew) is living there too.

Organizations & affiliations: Death Eater, Order of the Phoenix.
Skills: Potions (i.e.: Wolfsbane and Veritaserum), curses, Occlumens, Legilimens. Can fly without a broom (DH30).
Patronus: Doe (DH19).
Worst fear/memory: Possibly his worst memory is the humiliating episode when James Potter hung him upside down so his "graying" underwear showed, and Snape called Lily a "Mudblood." (OP28). However, Dumbledore thinks it was when Snape realized that Voldemort decided to go after the Potters because of the Prophecy (HBP25).
Punishment: Denounced as a Death Eater by Karkaroff at his trial; however Dumbledore vouched for his loyalty (GF30).
Battles: Snape was at the Battle of the Tower, where he killed Dumbledore and then hustled Draco to safety. In the Battle of the Seven Harrys (DH4) Snape fought with the rest of the Death Eaters and cursed George Weasley's ear off. He was present at the Battle of Hogwarts, but did not fight because Voldemort kept him nearby (DH32).

Mysteries & Misconceptions

Contrary to the assumptions of some, Snape is not a vampire, although he does in some way resemble those creatures (WBD).

Evidence that Snape is loyal to Dumbledore Evidence that Snape is loyal to Voldemort
  • After Harry attacked Snape in the Shrieking Shack, Snape makes excuses for him. He tells Cornelius Fudge that Harry was being controlled by Sirius via a Confundus Charm (PA21)
  • Dumbledore vouched for Snape's loyalty before the Wizengamot (GF30)
  • Snape (along with McGonagall & Dumbledore) was visible in Barty Crouch Jr.'s Foe-Glass (GF35)
  • Dumbledore never expressed any distrust of Snape
  • Dumbledore says Snape was remorseful after he told Voldemort about the prophecy (HBP25).
  • After Voldemort's re-birth, Dumbledore gave Snape some sort of grim assignment (OP36)
  • Over and over (until HBP) Harry's suspicions of Snape prove to be unfounded; what Snape says is often at odds with what he does
  • Timing suggests that Snape may have been the person that tipped Dumbledore off that Voldemort planned to kill the Potter's child
  • According to Dumbledore, "Professor Snape's timely action when I returned to Hogwarts, desperately injured [after breaking the ring Horcrux], I might not have lived to tell the tale." (HBP23)
  • Snape does not join the other Death Eaters after killing Dumbledore; instead, he rescues Draco and confronts Harry but does not kill him (HBP27)
  • Snape is a superb Occlumens and could have hidden his loyalty to Dumbledore from Voldemort
  • Snape murdered Dumbledore when Draco was unable to (HBP27)
  • The "revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face" as he kills Dumbledore (HBP 27).
  • Death Eater; refers to Voldemort respectfully as "Dark Lord"
  • Eavesdropped on Trelawney's prophecy and reported what he heard to Voldemort (HBP25)
  • Tells Bellatrix that all his work for Dumbledore was done under Voldemort's orders (HBP2)
  • Narcissa Malfoy believes that Snape is the "Dark Lord's favorite, his most trusted advisor" (HBP2)
  • Abuses his power as a professor; cruel to students, especially Harry, Hermione and Neville
  • Lifelong fascination with the Dark Arts
  • Ambitious and resentful of people who are well-liked
  • Snape is a superb Occlumens and could have hidden his loyalty to Voldemort from Dumbledore

Snape, copyright Makani.Snape responds to Bellatrix, and may have answered some of our questions too...
Note: not actual book quotes; these are paraphrases of the text from HBP2.

B: Where were you when the Dark Lord fell?
S: At Hogwarts where Voldemort ordered him to be, spying on Dumbledore.

B: Why did you never make any attempt to find him when he vanished?
S: He thought Voldemort was utterly vanquished.

B: What have you been doing all these years that you've lived in Dumbledore's pocket?
S: Snape claims the Dark Lord is pleased that he did not desert his post.

B: Why did you stop the Dark Lord procuring the Sorcerer's Stone?
S: Snape did not know that Voldemort had possessed Quirrell, so he thwarted Quirrell because he was "unworthy."

B: Why did you not return at once when the Dark Lord was reborn?
S: Snape did return, 2 hours later, on Dumbledore's orders thus ensuring (Snape tells Bella) that Dumbledore continued to trust him.

B: Where were you a few weeks ago when we battled to retrieve the prophecy for the Dark Lord?
S: Snape says his orders were to remain behind.

B: And why, Snape, is Harry Potter still alive, when you have had him at your mercy for five years?
S: Snape tells Bella that murdering Potter would have ended Dumbledore's trust and Snape's ability to gather information on the Order of the Phoenix.

More mysteries...
Was his childhood as grim as it appears to have been?
When did Snape find out that Pettigrew was a Death Eater?
Why didn't Snape take revenge on Pettigrew for betraying the Potters?

Severus Snape defends the trio from the werewolf. Young Snape, courtesy of Warner Brothers.

Adult Severus Snape is played by Alan Rickman and the younger Snape is played by Alec Hopkins.

Other pages on Snape:

Primary editor: Lisa Waite Bunker.
Original artwork Young Severus Snape ©2003 Lisa M. Rourke, used by permission
Original artwork of Severus Snape ©2003 by Red Scharlach, used by permission.
Original artwork of Severus Snape ©2004 Riikka Jäntti, used by permission.
Original artwork of Young Severus ©2004 Makani, used by permission.
Original artwork of Severus Snape ©2006 Makani, used by permission.
Original page date 22 October, 2000; Last page update 14 October, 2007.