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Eileen Prince

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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 Snape's parentage, and Harry's contempt.[src]

Eileen Snape (née Prince) was a witch. She was married to Tobias Snape, a Muggle, and was mother to Severus Snape.


Early life

Eileen Prince was born into the Pure-blood Prince family.[4] According to an old Daily Prophet clipping found by Hermione Granger, when Eileen was in her sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, she was captain of the school Gobstones team.[5] It is unknown exactly when Eileen began attending Hogwarts, but, based on the description of a copy of the sixth-year Potions textbook Advanced Potion-Making owned by her son as being "nearly fifty years old" in December 1996, it is possible that she started sometime in the early 1940s, if the book was bought new and then handed down.[6] The House into which she was sorted is also unknown, although, given her son's desire to be sorted into Slytherin,[2] it is possible she was one herself, or that Slytherin was the traditional house of the Prince family. Eileen may be like Andromeda Tonks (née Black), a pure-blood who married a Muggle-born due to a change in belief in blood purity.



Young Snape DH2

Eileen's son, Severus.

Eileen married Tobias Snape, a Muggle,[4] and lived with him in a terraced house on Spinner's End.[2] On 9 January, 1960, she gave birth to a son, Severus. Life in the Snape home was tumultuous, as Severus informed his friend, Lily Evans, that his parents were constantly arguing.[2] Given that Eileen's son was described as not looking "well cared for" at age eleven,[2] it is also possible that she and her husband were neglectful parents, abjectly poor, or both. Tobias does seem to have been aware of the fact that Eileen was a witch, having been described by their son as not liking anything, least of all magic.[2] Eileen accompanied her eleven-year-old son to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters for the first time on September 1, 1971, an event later watched in a Pensieve by Harry Potter.[2]

Physical description

At age fifteen, Eileen is described as having been skinny, pale, and sullen-faced, with a long face and heavy eyebrows.[5] In 1971, as an adult woman, she was thin, sallow-faced, and sour-looking, greatly resembling her son.[2]


"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 PrincePrince 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.[7]

Eileen's married name was "Snape". J. K. Rowling has said that she took the surname Snape from an English village[4], probably one in Yorkshire near Hadrian’s Wall. Snape is also an English verb meaning “to be hard upon, rebuke, snub”, derived from the Old Norse "sneypa", “to outrage, dishonour, disgrace”.[5]

Behind the scenes

  • Severus Snape took his nickname, the Half-Blood Prince, from his mother's maiden name combined with his own blood status of half-blood.
  • When Harry Potter accidentally entered Severus Snape's mind during an Occlumency lesson, he saw a memory in which a hook-nosed man was yelling at a frightened woman, while a small boy with dark hair — Severus — cried in the corner. The woman is generally presumed to have been Eileen, and the memory may be evidence that their relationship was abusive.[8]
  • On his first train ride to Hogwarts, Eileen's son, Severus, shows almost immediate contempt for Gryffindors, believing them to be brash and arrogant, with no prior problems shown, possibly implying that Eileen was bullied by Gryffindors while at Hogwarts, passing the resultant contempt to her son.
  • Eileen happens to share her first name with the middle name of Marjorie Dursley. Whether this was intentionality done by Rowling to provide an insight into a possible similarity in character, it is unknown.


Notes and references

  1. She was last known to be alive in 1971, as Harry saw her in Snape's memory of the station that year, so she must have died sometime after 1971.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33
  3. "In Ch. 4 of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, Horace Slughorn states that family members are often Sorted into the same House. This may indicate that Eileen was Sorted into Slytherin, as Severus was Sorted into Slytherin. However, there are exceptions.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30
  5. 5.0 5.1 Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25
  6. Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16
  7. Wiktionary Definition: Machiavellian
  8. Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26

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

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