All about... Severus Snape

We take a look at this much-misunderstood Head of Slytherin house, known for his dislike of Harry Potter, skills as Potions master and extraordinary inventions under the pen name of the Half-Blood Prince, as well as his deep, abiding love for Lily Evans...

Fact file

9 January 1960



Muggle Tobias Snape and witch Eileen Prince

Potions and Occlumency

2 May 1998

First mention of Severus

‘That’s Professor Snape.He teaches Potions, but he doesn’t want to – everybody knows he’s after Quirrell’s job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Number of mentions of Severus in all seven books


Severus Snape’s biggest book moments

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Is spotted limping by Harry after he is attacked by Fluffy the three-headed dog while trying to head off Professor Quirrell - Chapter 11

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Demonstrates a wizard duel with Gilderoy Lockhart: overpowers him with a Disarming Charm that smashes him against a wall - Chapter 11

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

‘Accidentally’ lets slip to Cornelius Fudge that Remus Lupin is a werewolf, forcing him to resign from Hogwarts - Chapter 22

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Shows Cornelius Fudge his Dark Mark, which is still visible from when Voldemort summoned him earlier that evening, in an attempt to convince the Minister the Dark Lord has returned - Chapter 36

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Gives a top secret report to the Order of the Phoenix in Grimmauld Place - Chapter 4

Leaves the Pensieve containing his worst memory unattended, leading Harry to find out that his father James bullied Snape as a teenager - Chapter 28

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Flees the castle with Draco Malfoy. Harry catches up and fights him, but to no avail. Snape reveals he is the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 28

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Is confirmed as Hogwarts Headmaster according to a Daily Prophet article - Chapter 12

Conjures his Patronus, a silver doe that leads Harry to the sword of Gryffindor - Chapter 19

Snape and Dumbledore discuss Lily - Chapter 33

‘After all this time?’
‘Always,’ said Snape.

The two sides of Snape

The Head of Slytherin is a man of extremes: we track some of the best and worst things he does in each book – some of them inadvertent...

Book Best thingsWorst things
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneTries to save Harry from Quirrell’s broom jinx during a Quidditch matchTakes a dislike to Harry in their first Potions class and sets a precedent for picking on him
Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsIntroduces Harry, Hermione and Ron to Polyjuice Potion and demonstrates a Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus)Tries to have Harry and Ron expelled after they fly to school in an enchanted car
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanMakes Wolfsbane potion for Lupin so that he can ‘keep his mind’ while transforming into a werewolf every full moonAlmost allows Peter Pettigrew to remain hidden as Scabbers, and is wrong in his belief that Lupin and Black are evil
Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireAt the request of Dumbledore, returns to Voldemort as a double agentInitially refuses to believe that Harry did not put his own name in the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixRefuses to help Umbridge interrogate Harry with Veritaserum, saying his supplies have run outIs angry with Harry for looking into his memories and refuses to continue to teach him Occlumency
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceSaves the life of Draco Malfoy when Harry uses Sectumsempra on himKills Dumbledore. Although it is later revealed that he acted on the headmaster’s orders
Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsIn his dying moments Snape gives Harry his memories, explaining his complicated pastReveals the date that Harry is to leave Privet Drive so that Voldemort continues to trust him

The name game

Snape gets called a lot of names in the books, many of them rude: here’s the line-up, from ‘Snivellus’ to ‘Git’

  • ‘Overgrown bat’ - Professor Quirrell
  • ‘Ugly git’ - James Potter
  • ‘Idiot’ - Sirius Black
  • ‘Slimeball’ - Peter Pettigrew
  • ‘Slimy, oily, greasy-haired kid’ - Sirius Black
  • ‘That awful boy’ - Aunt Petunia
  • ‘Git’ - Fred Weasley
  • ‘Snivellus’ - Sirius Black
  • ‘Snivelly’ - James Potter
  • ‘The Dark Lord’s favourite, his most trusted advisor’ - Narcissa Malfoy
  • ‘Sev’ - Lily Potter
  • ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ - himself
  • ‘Coward’ - Harry Potter
  • ‘That Snape boy’; ‘Weirdo’ - Aunt Petunia
  • ‘The bravest man I ever knew’ - Harry Potter

Snape’s incantations

While Severus’s true allegiances remain unclear for a long time, his skill as a wizard is obvious from the start – these are some of the spells he invented.

  • A hex that makes toenails grow extremely quickly
  • Langlock - a jinx that glues the tongue to the roof of the mouth
  • Muffliato - a spell that fills the ears of anyone nearby with an unidentifiable buzzing
  • Levicorpus – lifts someone up by their ankles, can be used non verbally
  • Sectumsempra – a very violent spell that can slash through an opponent
  • Counter curse to Levicorpus (Liberacorpus)

Capturing Severus

The descriptive words applied most often to Professor Snape

  • Cool
  • Horrible
  • Greasy
  • Quiet
  • Calm
  • Cold
  • Soft
  • Dark
  • Smooth
  • Dangerous
  • Curt
  • Hooked
  • Lazy
  • Angry
  • Black (Most used)
  • Thin
  • Silky
  • Furious
  • Twisted
  • Unpleasant
  • Sallow
  • Malicious

Final mention of Severus Snape

‘Albus Severus,’ Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to Rose, who was now on the train, ‘you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows