Harry Potter Creator Reveals Real-Life Inspiration for Snape's First Name

Behind every good story there is inspiration and in the case of J.K. Rowling's enduringly popular Harry Potter series, the inspiration for the characters and locations that make up the beloved fantasy series have themselves taken on something of legendary proportions. While many of those legends may themselves be invention of various tour guides and others hoping to attach to a bit of the story's magic for themselves, Rowling has been taking to social media recently to offer up bits of the truth -- including the very real inspiration for Severus Snape's name.

Last weekend, Rowling shared a photo of a road sign reading "Severus Road S.W. 11" and revealed that the sign was the real-life inspiration for Snape's name, though it wasn't until after publication that she realized exactly where the "Severus" name had entered her life and, thus, the story.

"Real Harry Potter inspiration alert: I walked past this sign every day on my way to work when I was living in Clapham. Much later - post-publication - I revisited the area & suddenly realised THIS was why 'Severus' had leapt into my head when thinking of a 1st name for Snape," she wrote.

Revealing the inspiration for Snape's first name is just one of the many reveals Rowling has made on social media in recent days. In addition to revealing the inspiration for Snape's name, she also clarified that while Edinburgh's The Elephant House cafe is widely considered to be the "birthplace" of Harry Potter, Rowling explained that though she did write there, the genuine birthplace -- where she put pen to paper for the first time -- was in a flat in Clapham Junction. She also clarified that the actual idea for Harry Potter came to her while on a Manchester-London train.

"The first bricks of Hogwarts were laid in a flat in Clapham Junction," Rowling wrote, though she said that they’d let The Elephant House off the hook, as it were, as it was a location where she did write while working on the series.


These updates and clarifications about Harry Potter's real-world history and inspiration are nothing new for Rowling. Earlier this year the author took to social media to share little known facts about herself and, previously, she's been known to share information about characters as well.

What do you think about Rowling's reveal of the inspiration for Snape's name? Let us know in the comments below.