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Hermione Granger: " [...] there was a tiny announcement about Eileen Prince marrying a Muggle called Tobias Snape and then later an announcement saying that she'd given birth to a —"
Harry Potter: "— murderer."
— Hermione revealing Severus Snape's parentage[src]

Eileen Snape (née Prince) (born c. 1930) was a British witch, wife to the Muggle Tobias Snape and mother to Severus Snape.[8]


Early life

Eileen was born into the wizarding Prince family[8] in Great Britain, likely around 1930.[1]

She likely began attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry around 1941.[1] Presumably, she was Sorted into Slytherin.[7] While at school, Eileen was captain of the school Gobstones team during her fifth year.[4] She was concurrently the President of the Hogwarts Gobstone Club.[5]


After graduating, Eileen met the Muggle Tobias Snape and married him.[8] They moved into a terraced house in Cokeworth on a street called Spinner's End. It was close to the mill and near a nasty-smelling, polluted river.[9]

On 9 January, 1960, she gave birth to a son, Severus Snape.[8] Severus' childhood was plagued by the tumultuous, explosive atmosphere in the home, with his parents often fighting.[6] Tobias would shout at Eileen and may have been physically abusive as well.

The couple either neglected Severus, were too poor to care for him well, or both. His clothes were mismatched and did not fit properly. When he began his first year of school at Hogwarts, he changed into his uniform quickly after getting onto the Hogwarts Express, apparently glad to be rid of his Muggle clothes. Despite this, Severus was already talented with magic before he received his Hogwarts letter in 1971.[10]

On 1 September, 1971, Eileen accompanied Severus to Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters at King's Cross Station and watched him leave on the Hogwarts Express.[9] Whatever Eileen's thoughts on the matter were, Severus was exhilarated to leave for Hogwarts.[9]

Physical appearance

At age fifteen, Eileen was skinny and unattractive, looking simultaneously cross and sullen. She had heavy brows and a long, pallid face.[4] By 1971, not much had changed: Eileen was thin, hunched, sour-faced and sallow.[9]


"Eileen" is from Celtic, English and Irish roots and has a long-standing history in each culture. In Irish, it is known as a variation of "Helen". It became a more popular name in the 19th century. It is rumoured to have roots in Latin, American, French and Greek cultures, however, such claims are not backed up with much evidence. Another variation of this name is Eileene which is most commonly used in Ireland.

Other versions of Eileen; "Aileen" (Scottish), "Eibhlin" (the original source for the name), "Eila" (Celtic variant of both "Eileen" and "Aileen"), "Eireen" (Norwegian variant of "Irene" or "Eileen"), "Eleanor" (a similarly-rooted name to "Eileen" in Irish).

Eileen's maiden name was Prince. Prince is a general term for a monarch or a member of a monarch's family, and is a hereditary title of some European royalty, likely alluding to the aristocratic status of pure-blood families in the wizarding world. The word is derived from the Latin princeps, meaning "a prime", which was one of the titles of the Roman Emperor, in which case it was generally translated as "First Citizen". The Prince is also the title of a famous political treatise by Niccolò Machiavelli; an interesting point considering that the adjective derived from the author's surname, Machiavellian, is defined as "attempting to achieve goals by cunning, scheming and unscrupulous methods", which may allude to the ideal traits of Slytherin house.[11]

Behind the scenes

  • Eileen's decision to marry Tobias may have resulted in her being disowned by her family — similar to Andromeda Tonks, who was disowned by her family after she married a Muggle-born man.
  • Despite his upbringing, Severus was already talented with magic before he received his Hogwarts letter in 1971.[12] It is possible that Eileen taught him these spells or that he taught himself from books she owned.
  • It is unknown what happened to Eileen after her son began Hogwarts. By 1996, Severus had taken over the house at Spinner's End.[13] She might have died, or perhaps she had moved out of her marital home at some point in the twenty-four years since. At Hogwarts, her son Severus used her surname and his blood status to make his nickname of "the Half-Blood Prince".


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eileen's sixth-year Potions book was published "around" fifty years prior to 1996 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas)). Assuming she purchased it new in 1946 and assuming she was sixteen at the time, she would have been born around 1930, although she may have bought a used copy or purchased it earlier.
  2. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb), Harry stated that Eileen was a pure-blood twice, and in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard), Hermione seemed to believe that the Princes were a wizarding family.
  3. "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Gobstones" at Wizarding World
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn) - Slughorn states that family members are usually Sorted into the same House. This may indicate that Eileen was Sorted into Slytherin. Additional supporting evidence is that Severus wanted to be in Slytherin before he even got to school, possibly because his mother had been in Slytherin.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27 (Padfoot Returns)
  11. Wiktionary Definition: Machiavellian
  12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27 (Padfoot Returns)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2 (Spinner's End)
Hogwarts Gobstones Team
Known Captains
Eileen Prince
Gobstones players
David Boorman · Felix Brunt · Poppy Caxton · Fay Dunbar · Craig Dunn · Cordelia Gifford · Gryffindor boy · Gryffindor boy's friend · Jason Swann · Gareth Pewsey · Bastien Queensbury · Ivan Renshaw · Arman Shettigar · Vikram Thakur · Nigel Wroxton · Zara Valli