10 Famous Literary Characters and Their Real-Life Inspirations

Severus Snape — John Nettleship

When Rowling admitted that Snape was “loosely based on a teacher I myself had,” the press tracked down John Nettleship, who taught Rowling Chemistry at Wyedean School near Chepstow. When first approached, he was surprised, explaining, “I was horrified when I first found out. I knew I was a strict teacher but I didn’t think I was that bad.” In retrospect, however, he admitted that he was “a short-tempered chemistry teacher with long hair…[and a] gloomy, malodorous laboratory,” which seems pretty on-point to us.