Harry Potter


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Alohomora! Your complete guide to unlocking the truth behind Harry Potter characters based on real life- people (i.e. muggles)…

Considering that JK Rowling has so successfully created a fantasy universe inside her head, it may come as a surprise that she sourced a lot of her inspiration for Harry Potter Characters from real life. From rude family members to school teachers to herself, JK Rowling is no stranger to taking inspiration from wherever it may present itself.

And it wasn’t just with people either. Just like JK Rowling based a number of places in Harry Potter on real life people, she based places and locations in the series on real life (like the room of Requirements door is based on an ancient door in Exeter cathedral Close!)…

A selection of the Harry Potter Characters Based on Real Life People:

Nicolas Flamel

Nicolas Flamel was a real person and he lived in Paris. Yep, let me just reiterate that: that guy Nicolas Flamel, who invented the philosopher’s stone (the secret of an immortal life) was real. Flamel, whom Voldemort wanted to kill.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Flamel makes an appearance in the books, considering that JK Rowling studied abroad in Paris during her time at university. Nicolas also happens to be one of Beauxbaton’s most famous alumni (one of the great 11 )

Furthermore, in reality, Flamel was a 14th Century shop-keeper who likely never even dabbled in alchemy. It wasn’t until centuries later that associations between Flamel and alchemy began to be made and rumours spread…

If you’re also interested in places that inspired places in Harry Potter (I mean, why wouldn’t you be?), then you can still visit Nicolas Flamel’s House in the heart of Le Marais.

harry potter characters based on real life people

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

Severus Snape

As one of the most complicated characters in the books, it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Snape is actually based on a number of real-life people and their various personality traits. I mean, how many real life people are as complex as Snape? Well, apparently there is one guy, for the predominant inspiration for Snape is Rowling’s old Science Teacher, John Nettleship. Mr Nettleship still works as a science teacher at the very same school in South Wales that Rowling attended.

Well, apparently there is one guy, for the predominant inspiration for Snape is Rowling’s old Science Teacher, John Nettleship. Mr Nettleship still works as a science teacher at the very same school in South Wales that Rowling attended in South Wales.

When the news broke about Nettleship’s real identity, it was speculated at how evil the real life ‘Snape’ must be. And that’s because this news broke prior to the revelation that Snape was actually the bravest and most loyal of all the Harry Potter characters! (Shout out to my Mum who said Snape was good all along!)

severus snape based on john nettleship

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

Harry Potter

Fun fact: even Harry Potter was based on a real life person! In fact, he shares his last name with Ian Potter, the inspiration for tHarry Potter. Ian was a childhood friend and neighbour of Rowling (who was also particularly mischevious).

JK Rowling and Harry Potter share a birthday, the 31st July.

harry potter based on a real life character

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

Hermione Granger

Rowling says that Hermione Granger has a lot in common with her younger self. Rowling first saw the name ‘Hermione’ appear in the Shakespeare play ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and grew to love it.

Although Hermione first had the name ‘Puckle’, Rowling quickly decided to change it.


Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

Ron Weasley

Just like the other two main characters, Ron Weasley is based on a real life person. Rowling stated that one of her closest friends, Sean Harris was the inspiration behind the character; “Although I never meant him to be like Sean, once I got Ron onto the page he often behaved like my oldest friend, who is both very funny and deeply loyal”.

harry potter characters based on real life

Warner Bros. Pictures /

Aunt Marge

Of all the Harry Potter Characters based on real life people, it may come as a particular surprise that Aunt Marge was based on someone in real life. Although Aunt Marge only appeared once in the books and films, it was definitely enough to have caused quite a stir in the Dursley-Potter household.

Apparently, Rowling isn’t the only one of her family with similarities to Harry Potter characters. Aunt Mage (Otherwise known as Marjorie Dursley), was based on Rowling’s maternal grandma, Frieda Volant who also had a love of dogs! Rowling said on the subject “Frieda was a dog lover who seemed to prefer her four-legged friends to people“.

harry potter characters based on real life

Warner Bros. Pictures /

Gilderoy Lockhart

But the most surprising of all Harry Potter characters based on real life is the Gilderoy Lockhart ‘revelation’. Gilderoy Lockhart, a pompous professor who lied incessantly and even tried to wipe Harry’s memory. Altogether he was an odious man who didn’t deserve the fame he had received.

Rowling said on Lockhart “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.

Ultimately, although there has been a lot of speculation about the identity of Lockhart’s real life persona, Rowling has declined to comment…

gilderoy lockhart based on real life

Warner Bros. Pictures / Via

That’s all on Harry Potter Characters Based on Real Life for now- shout out to all my fellow Ravenclaws!

Sources: BBC NewsThe Telegraph, JK Rowling Biography (by Colleen Sexton)

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • Luna Slytherin Malfoy
    7th June 2019 at 10:59 am

    I love this! It’s very fascinating. I love Harry Potter. my favourite characters are Luna, Hermione, Draco and Gilderoy.

  • Anna
    10th June 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I love Harry Potter and I have read them all three times. This summer I am about to start the fourth run and I’m out reading up for inspiration. It’s not like spoilers are an issue after so many reads 😉

  • Leah
    4th December 2016 at 8:23 pm

    This makes me so happy! It’s always nice to learn a little more about HP!

  • Kevin Watkins
    25th November 2016 at 10:13 am

    Harry Potter was my favorite film of all time. I was hook by it’s magic!

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    19th November 2016 at 3:07 pm

    very interesting! I love Hp books:)


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