ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

The incredible world of Harry Potter draws on many sources, from mythology and folklore to modern historical events. I guess it's only natural for a writer of J.K. Rowling's calibre to draw from real life, too. Check out 5 Harry Potter characters inspired by real people...

1. Firenze

Introduced in: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Based on: Steve Eddy

Eddy was Rowling's English teacher at Wyedean School, England when she was 11 - the age Harry was when he started Hogwarts. The Sunday Mirror offered a quote from the teacher and astrology enthusiast:

"Joanne's work always showed impressive imagination and in class she was always bright and enthusiastic, much in the way of Hermione in the Harry Potter books. But when it came to her stories they were always about elves or pixies or fairies. I was constantly telling her that she was at an age where she should be writing about grittier, more real-life things. But - thank goodness, as it turned out - she never heeded my advice and kept presenting me with her fantastic stories about made-up creatures. Looking back I am a bit embarrassed about it, but I had no idea what she'd go on to achieve."

2. Natalie McDonald

Introduced in: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Based on: 9-year-old Natalie McDonald, a young Harry Potter fan with terminal leukemia. Rowling received a letter from the brave girl and was so touched that she wrote Natalie into The Goblet of Fire. Read more about Natalie's story here.

3. Gilderoy Lockhart

Introduced in: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Based on: ??

J.K. Rowling confirmed that Gilderoy was indeed based on an equally dreadful real life person, saying:

"I assure you that the person on whom Gilderoy was modeled was even more objectionable than his fictional counterpart. He used to tell whopping great fibs about his past life, all of them designed to demonstrate what a wonderful, brave and brilliant person he was. Perhaps he didn't really believe he was all that great and wanted to compensate, but I'm afraid I never dug that deep."

4. Severus Snape

speedportraits at DeviantArt
speedportraits at DeviantArt

Introduced in: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Based on: John Nettleship

Nettleship taught a young Rowling chemistry at Wydean School in the late '70s. After being a little taken aback, he grew to love his role in crafting Professor Snape. He describes himself as:

"A short-tempered chemistry teacher with long hair...[and a] gloomy, malodorous laboratory. I was horrified when I first found out. I knew I was a strict teacher but I didn't think I was that bad."

Snape in action...

5. Dolores Umbridge

Introduced in: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Based on: ??

The unnamed woman who inspired Professor Umbridge was a person who Rowling 'disliked intensely on sight.' Rowling described their relationship:

"The woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say."

Source: Quora, DeviantArt, The Mirror


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