Printer Friendly

THE REAL PROFESSOR SNAPE; The chemistry teacher - or potions master - called Snape who taught at Wales' very own Hogwar ts.

Byline: TYLER MEARS Reporter tyler.mears@walesonline.co.uk

THE spires, flying buttresses, turrets and arched windows of Aberystwyth's Old College could have leapt straight from the pages of a Harry Potter novel.

Yet it turns out that appearance isn't the only thing Aberystwyth University's oldest building has in common with JK Rowling's magical books - for the university also had a "potions master" called Professor Snape.

Research by Beth Rodgers, a lecturer in 19th-century literature at the university, found that one of JK Rowling's most famous characters, Hogwarts teacher Severus Snape, had a namesake who worked at the university in the late 19th century.

Like the magical potions master, the real-life Professor Snape was a man of bubbling concoctions as well... teaching chemistry.

Aberystwyth's Old College was Wales' first university, founded in 1872.

Its dramatic, Gothic architecture, originally designed to be a luxurious Victorian hotel, has spires and turrets, and has often led to comparisons with the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in which Harry Potter is taught.

Rodgers was reading The Women's Penny Paper when she came across the tale of Henry Lloyd Snape (1861-1933), an academic who taught at the university in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She discovered that Snape had been appointed Chair of Chemistry in 1888.

An obituary published in the Journal of the Chemical Society following Snape's death in 1933, describes him as an "energetic, keen and devoted" man who was serious about science but also committed to literature and was a key player in "college dramatics".

Writing about her discovery in the Irish Times, Rodgers said: "At the thought of Henry Lloyd Snape's twin devotions to potions and dramatic poses, it's difficult not to conjure up an image of Alan Rickman marching through the halls of Hogwarts, cape billowing behind him. "Harry Potter lore has it that Rowling's surly Severus Snape was inspired by her own childhood chemistry teacher, John Nettleship, who taught Rowling at Wyedean School near Chepstow, South Wales, and passed away in 2011.

Rowling herself suggests the unusual name "Snape" comes from a Suffolk village of the same name.

"While Aberystwyth's own Professor Snape may not have been the inspiration for his fictional namesake - Rowling might be wholly unaware of his existence - there are uncanny echoes and parallels between them.

"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. His commitment to the teaching of potions, however, is never in doubt.

"Henry Lloyd Snape appears to have been no less fastidious, or darkly charismatic.

"Former student Thomas Jones, who later became Lloyd George's deputy cabinet secretary, recalled that 'every limb of his body was summoned to assist him in the act of lecturing'.

"In photographs of the time, he appears a handsome, undeniably dashing figure, with dark moustaches and a distinctive widow's peak hairstyle.

"The strange continuities run deeper. Eccentricity was no doubt a feature of many universities in the 19th century, but the particular oddities of Aberystwyth's Old College are even more striking when we consider parallels with Hogwarts.

"In The College by the Sea, a book published in 1928 to celebrate the university's first decades, former staff and students recall characters

CAPTION(S):

and events that could come straight from fiction. "One undergraduate recounts the capture of a young rook, whose 'antics and baths afforded much amusement to the staff'. Hedwig, anyone? "Another student summons the college ghost, which was wont to wake college residents with its 'blood-curdling cries'. "One professor was moved enough by the sounds to embark on that most Victorian pursuit -

psychical research. Happily, the revenant turned out to be no Moaning Myrtle, but a mischievous student with a hunting horn." After doing some further research, Rodgers also found a reference to a public lecture by Henry Lloyd Snape titled The Philosopher of Stone - an echo of Rowling's first Potter book, The Philosopher's Stone. Talking about her discovery, Rodgers said: "I've never come across anything like this before. "Harry Potter is a personal interest of mine so it was a very odd and serendipitous coincidence that I found this. "The students I teach come to uni with a shared experience of loving the Harry Potter books when they were growing up and it's lovely to think that this literature may have put them on the course of becoming 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."

Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies on the left. Above, pictured in the centre is Professor Henry Lloyd Snape, a former Aberystwyth academic
COPYRIGHT 2015 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 27, 2015
Words:803
Previous Article:Top 200 EU officials cost more than PS50m, claims Ukip research.
Next Article:SHOCKING TRUTH OF THE NUM.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |