- 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]
She began attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry between 1941 and 1946. Presumably, she was Sorted into Slytherin. According to an old Daily Prophet clipping found by Hermione Granger, Eileen was Captain of the school Gobstones team during her fifth year. She was concurrently the President of the Hogwarts Gobstone Club.
After graduating, Eileen met the Muggle Tobias Snape and married him. Why they began a relationship and got married is unknown. Their son would later state that Tobias did not like "anything much", including magic. It is possible that he was unaware of the magical world and Eileen being a witch, or else he might have ended the relationship. 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.
On 9 January, 1960, she gave birth to a baby boy, Severus Snape. Severus' childhood was plagued by the tumultuous, explosive atmosphere in the home, with his parents often fighting. 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 even received his Hogwarts letter in 1971. In 1995, Sirius Black would mention (in a conversation with Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger) that Severus knew more curses when he arrived at school than many of the seventh-year students did. Tobias might not have tried to ban magic from the Snape home, or Eileen and Severus might have used it whenever he was not around.
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. Although she looked sullen, it can be presumed that she was happy to see her son get away from their troubled home for a while (except for the summers between his school years). He looked exceptionally overjoyed.
What precisely happened to Eileen is unknown. By the time Severus joined the Order of the Phoenix and began teaching at Hogwarts in September 1981, he had taken over the home. As he was only twenty-one years old, Eileen and Tobias were probably alive but had moved away for some reason.
At age fifteen, Eileen was skinny and unattractive, looking simultaneously cross and sullen. She had heavy brows and a long, pallid face. By 1971, not much had changed: Eileen was thin, hunched, sour-faced and sallow.
"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.
Behind the scenes
- At Hogwarts, her son Severus used her surname and his blood status to make his nickname of "the Half-Blood Prince".
- There is a theory that Irma Pince, the librarian during Harry Potter's years at Hogwarts, is actually Eileen in disguise. Pince's name is an anagram of "I am Prince" or "I'm a Prince". Her description matches that of Eileen's, having the same hooked nose and dark hair as Severus. Both she and Severus have snappy, stern personalities. She is a librarian and, incidentally, the sitting room in the Snape home contains many shelves of books (as seen by Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange during a visit in 1996). Eileen was willing to marry a non-magical man, Tobias, and Pince was rumoured to be involved with Argus Filch, the Squib caretaker of Hogwarts.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 As Eileen's sixth-year Potions book was published "around" 50 years prior to 1996 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas)), it could have been published anytime between 1946 and 1951; assuming Eileen bought it new, and she being sixteen at the time, she would have to have been born between 1930 and 1935.
- ↑ In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb), Harry speaks of Snape playing up "pure-blood mother, Muggle father", but the article Hermione reads never specifically says Eileen was pure-blood.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Pottermore - Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Gobstones"
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 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, potentially from hearing about his mother being in Slytherin.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 2 (Spinner's End)
- ↑ Wiktionary Definition: Machiavellian