Harry Potter’s Professor Severus Snape may not have existed in real life, but he certainly had his equal at Aberystwyth’s Old College. Science teacher Henry Lloyd Snape taught at the college in the 1880s, and while he may not have been the real-life inspiration for Harry Potter’s disdainful potions professor, his existence certainly is interesting for fans of the series.
According to the Daily Mail, Dr. Beth Rodgers, who teaches 19th-century literature at Aberystwyth’s Old College, did some research and found that Henry Lloyd Snape actually shared some similarities with Harry Potter’s Hogwarts potions master.
The real-life Snape was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1921 for his work with disabled service men following the First World War, according to Rodgers’ research. A press release from Aberystwyth University notes the Snape that Rodgers’ research turned up was the university’s Chair of Chemistry in 1888 following the death of the original chair.
While the Harry Potter character of Snape may have been fictional, Henry Lloyd Snape, who passed away in 1933, was described as being “energetic, keen and devoted.” In addition, Henry Lloyd Snape was devoted to both science and literature, was a key player in college dramatics, and supported the school’s debate club.
— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) December 22, 2015
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has said in the past that her version of Snape was inspired by her own chemistry teacher John Nettleship, who passed away in 2011. Nettleship taught Rowling at Wyedean School near Chepstow, South Wales.
Rodgers came across Henry Lloyd Snape’s name while reading The Women’s Penny Paper in 1890. While Rodgers uncovered several interesting facts about the real-life Snape, even going so far as to call Henry Lloyd Snape a potions master in his own right, Rowling has said in the past that the name Snape came from a Suffolk village of the same name.
Founded in 1872, Aberystwyth was Wales’ first university, and in addition to making history as Wales’ first university, it also has the double honor of being the first Welsh university to accept female students. Henry Lloyd Snape was also a teacher directly involved in running both secondary and university education. Later in his career, Snape also acted as the Director of Education for Lancashire County Council.
Rodgers detailed the similarities between Henry Lloyd Snape and Professor Snape from Harry Potter lore.
“In the early days of Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts, Rowling’s Snape appears to be the villain of the piece – although, as the books progress, his role in the school and the story as a whole is revealed to be rather more complicated than that,” she wrote in the Irish Times, according to the Daily Mail. “His commitment to the teaching of potions, however, is never in doubt.”
— Sarah Prescott (@SarahPrescott18) December 28, 2015
In an uncanny turn, Rodgers also came across a lecture given by Henry Lloyd Snape entitled “The Philosopher of Stone” – echoing shades of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, perhaps? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the title of the first book in the Harry Potter series in the United Kingdom and in Canada, where many other places published the first novel in the series under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Rodgers said that she felt her current students at Aberystwyth had more than a passing familiarity with the Harry Potter series of books, and as a result, her current discovery that Aberystwyth’s Old College boasted a real-world Snape will only bolster interest in the university. She added that she felt that her discovery of a real Professor Snape might further her students’ interest in attending the university as English students.
“It is a story very present in all of our lives and it seems it will continue to be present in our lives following this discovery,” Rodgers said of the real-world Harry Potter connection.
[Image via Warner Bros.]