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borolin, also known as Claire M. Jordan, a member of Harry Potter Network, posted a sad message yesterday about the passing of John Nettleship, the Chepstow teacher upon whom J. K. Rowling based the character of Severus Snape. She knew him well, and all credit goes to her for use of these photographs. 
See Death Notice on the Caerwent Community Site and thanks to Claire for the link. 

Read more discussion of these pictures and talk to Claire about John Nettleship on HPN 

From ClaireMJordan:
Lovely Johnny Nettleship died this morning. He didn't want to disseminate photographs of himself "when he was Snape" too widely in case he was mobbed by salivating fen, but now that's no longer an issue, this is John "when he was Snape". Rowling's Snape is in origin basically an uglified version of John and the less cartoonish of her drawings of Snape shows him with a straight nose which hooks over at the tip (John's nose was straight with a blob on the end), rather than a nose which is bent at the bridge.


Snape probably has jaw-length or neck-length hair most of the time, like John's, and like JK's own drawing of him. There's no mention of his having long hair at all in the first book, which implies he probably didn't, at least at first. He appears at the start of CoS with shoulder-length hair, which doesn't come as a surprise to Harry so he must have been growing it for some months. Thereafter his hair is never again described as shoulder-length, although it is called long several times. It swings freely in curtains, which means it probably isn't so long as to catch on his shoulders.

From another post:  He was still a good-looking bloke in his 70s, and at that age he was almost supernaturally beautiful: like a cross between an 18th C romantic poet and a slightly undernourished pre-Raphaelite knight.  And despite being nearly forty, when JK knew him he looked about eighteen.  [When he *was* eighteen he actually didn't look so good, because he hid his light behind a pair of thick black plastic Austin Powers specs and a dreadful little beard that looked like pubes.  But that was the late '50s all over.]

He was a true science geek, including being a bit socially naive.  It's my opinion that JK's real grudge against him was that she fancied him madly and he *didn't notice*, so she uglified him into Snape to say "Nyah - I never fancied you anyway!"


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, my heart. RIP.
Mar. 13th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
I never realised who the "real" Severus Snape actually was, for me Snape is completely tied up with the image of Alan Rickman.
but googling for John Nettleship I found this picture:

and then it becomes even more uncanny how much Alan Rickman covers the character Snape.
of course Snape should due to his age look closer to the two pictures in your post.
now I have to reajust my Snape image to something between those pic and this one:
Mar. 13th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Oh my. It's shocking how much he resembles so many fanartists' interpretation of Snape.
Mar. 14th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
Fairwell, Professor
It's funnby, as gorgeous as the picture of a young Alan Rikcman is...and it is definitely gorgeous, the way I pictued Severus when I read be book was a lot like the picture of Mr. Nettlesmith on the top right. Just not quite as wide a jaw, and the deep black eyes, but the rest of the face is just spot on. I love AR's Snape, don't get me wrong, but, I read the book before I saw the movie and coldn't wait to see who was play my favorite shark-master. Rickmand got him down as perfectly as ahyone could have, especially the way he moved...like a dancer, all graceful and billowing.

May the "original" Sev find peace now that he is over the suffering he must have recently been going through. I will be remembered by a lot of us for being instrumental in inspiring one of the greatest characters (IMHO) in current 21st century literature. An awesome honor...whether it was meant to be or not. As a matter of fact, even more awesome if it wasn't meant for him to have such a positive affect on so many readers. Rest in Peace Professor, you've certainly earned it.
Mar. 15th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
My deepest condolences. By all accounts John was a great man whose memory will continue to be honored by friends and family alike.
Mar. 16th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the pictures. Mr. Nettleship sounds like a wonderful man; I have thought so for some time, knowing that he admired and helped J.K. Rowling's mother. It seems ungrateful of J.K. Rowling to be saying things like "he deserved it".

And - the pictures of him when he was younger are shockingly like my personal vision of Snape at the same age, down to the height and build*. I do imagine him with longer hair (at the time of Hogwarts) and a thinner face, but otherwise he's scarily close to what I have always pictured when I read the books. Honestly, I could never get "ugly" from Rowling's descriptions. It was Snape's attitude, not his physical description, that was off-putting. But I've gone into detail about that before. Also, as those who know my stories will remember, I always imagined Snape with a good singing voice.

*Borolin, I remember arguing with you about canon Snape's height. I was insisting that he was probably in the 5'9" or 5'10" range - about average height, and a slight build. At that time, you were insisting he was tall. Nice to see you've come round to my viewpoint!
Apr. 4th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Getting to know John and discovering that he was only 5'8" made me see Snape in a new light. Nevertheless Snape must be taller than John - maybe 5'10", 5'11" - because he's tall enough to look down at Narcissa, who is tall for a woman, and close enough in height to Sirius - who is supposedly tall - that Harry only realises that Snape is shorter than Sirius when he sees them next to each other.
Mar. 20th, 2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
Good Night, Good Sir
User onionblossom referenced to your post from Good Night, Good Sir saying: [...] I'd just like to say, "thank you, sir, and rest well." The Illuminated Dungeon ~ To Sir, With Love [...]
Mar. 20th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dear Sir
for all the joy you inspired. You will be remembered!
Apr. 1st, 2011 07:30 am (UTC)
Farewell, professor...
I never met John Nettleship, but as a huge Snape fan I was deeply moved by this article.
He really sounds like a wonderful man and teacher, and he will be greatly missed.

I wouldn't worry too much about JKR's psychology by the way: the fact that Snape is depicted as ugly, scary and unfair, i think is functional to the plot. The fact that in the end he was good and loved Harry's mother should really come as a surprise, so through the books and even the interviews the author had to lead away the readers from that thought.
It doesn't mean that she actually hated mr. Nettleship: Snape's just a fictional character and I think she only took the general idea of a dark chemistry teacher to build the character.
But it was important that the reader hated Snape so in the end they would all go: "OMG, I can't believe Snape was good!".
(personally, it never worked for me: I loved Snape all along! :) )

It's incredible to see how much mr. Nettleship resembled the image of Snape that I have in my mind, though...
Nov. 15th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
Far too attractive and I agree. I think jo-jo had a major thing for him because, what straight girl couldn't? Really?
Jan. 15th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
John Nettleship
John was our childhood friend when he and his family lived in West Bridgford, Nottingham in the '50s. So sorry to hear of his death.
My two sisters and I used to go round to his mother's (Lilian) house
to play with his intricate railway set-up and to watch him and his brother, Roy, show us "smells and bangs" using his chemistry set!

Hilary, Glenda and Jennifer
Jan. 16th, 2012 06:19 am (UTC)
Re: John Nettleship

Thank you so much for dropping into my blog! How interesting that his mother's name was Lilian, and similar to the name of Snape's love interest, Lily.

And even more interesting to hear he had a chemistry set! :) I guess that set him on the path which led to his life in JKR's school laboratory.
Jul. 23rd, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
still a mystery
From the bits I've gathered here and there, I wonder if there was a LOT more to the Nettleship/Rowling family relationship than we currently know. Why did he (apparently) take the part of Rowling's Dad when the latter married rather hastily after the death of Joanne's mother? She would have resented that. And how close was he - or seemed to be - to Joanne's mother? (Ahh - don't hit me!)

The tensions in Rowling's presentation of Snape certainly indicate Denying-a-Crush. Even at the end of book 7, she tries to curtail his full impact as the series' Romantic-tragic hero. (Dispatched a few chapters from the end; no funeral; qualified acknowledgement by Harry of his bravery; his childhood love for Lily twice described as 'greedy' - this from a writer who set up a charity for emotionally starved and abused Romanian orphans, who wept buckets over alienated and lovelorn anti-hero Sydney Carton...)

There is something strange and ungenerous in JKR's refusal to comment on Nettleship after his death. However he behaved as a teacher, he appears to have been completely decent and rather in line was a lifelong member of the Labour party (Rowling is, likewise, left wing), was devoted to his community, and managed to be described by his EX-wife as a wonderful man who fought for the underdog, and especially women. What wasn't to like? What was behind Rowling's enduring resentment of him?

May. 13th, 2013 07:58 pm (UTC)
Goodbye Sir
I remember sitting in your lesson's and yes I did regret messing about so much!
You were a fantastic teacher...
I was sorry to hear of Mr Nettleship's passing but am glad he is now at peace.

When Harry Potter hit the screen I remember saying to my son that Snape was a ringer for my Physics teacher, even the way he spoke!
Then when I heard J K Rowling had gone to Wyedean School I just knew!

Goodbye to a good man x
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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