JK Rowling's inspirational teacher

CHEMICAL CHARACTER: John Nettleship, the inspiration for Severus Snape

CHEMICAL CHARACTER: John Nettleship, the inspiration for Severus Snape

First published in News by

A DAYDREAMER who never answered questions about science and hated taking part in experiments.

That would be the report given to J.K. Rowling by the man who taught her chemistry at Wyedean Comprehensive, near Chepstow in the late 1970s.

But John Nettleship believes Ms Rowling, or Joanne, as he knew her, must have taken something in.

For science plays more than a little role in her phenomenally successful saga of Harry Potter, the boy wizard learning to make his way using potions and spells.

Mr Nettleship, of Five Lanes, near Caerwent, is appearing at the Chepstow Bookshop, where 41-year-old Ms Rowling used to visit as a teenager, to promote the launch of the final instalment tonight.

It's been said that the 67-year-old resembles the dastardly Severus Snape, Professor of Potions at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

It may not be the most flattering comparison - ruling his class with a rod of iron, Snape is not well-liked by the apprentice wizards.

But far from taking offence, Mr Nettleship is proud to have been an inspiration to a series that has sold 345 million copies around the world.

"The first I knew was when a reporter from a national newspaper knocked on the door seven years ago and said: 'You're Professor Snape aren't you'," said the former head of science.

"I suppose I was quite strict as a teacher, but I said to my wife, 'she thinks I'm Professor Snape'. She said 'of course you are, but I didn't want to tell you'.

"Fortunately for me, quite a lot of people like Alan Rickman, who plays Snape in the films."

Mr Nettleship said his lessons were filled with lots of "bang and smells" using chemistry kits but Joanne did not appear interested.

"I knew something was going on in her head but she would never say what," he said.

"Her friends later said she was inventing stories, and the Harry Potter stories must have come from these. Her mind was working on wizards all the time."

Pottermania set to hit Gwent tonight
HARRY Potter mania will hit Gwent tonight with the midnight launch of the final book in the series.

Bookshops in Newport, Abergaveny, and Chepstow will open their doors at the witching hour to hundreds of eager fans, desperate to snap up copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Die-hard aficionados are expected to flock to the Chepstow Bookshop in particular, which played a special part in the J.K. Rowling story.

The multi-millionaire author used to buy her favourite books as a teenager from the shop in St Mary Street, Chepstow.

Manager Matt Taylor, who is planning lots of fantasy fun on the night, said: "She used to walk here from her home in Tutshill.

She would have walked past Chepstow Castle, which might have been the inspiration for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

The Chepstow Bookshop has received nearly 150 pre-orders for the book, while WHSmith in Newport has had nearly 400 requests.

Other shops opening at midnight with Potter-themed parties include Waterstones in High Street, Abergavenny and in Commercial Street, Newport, and WHSmith, also in Commercial Street, Newport.

Where to buy the book: THE book is on sale at:
Asda: £8.87 + £2.74 delivery (online only)
Tesco: £9.99
Merlins: £10.99
Waterstones: £8.99 (Saturday only)
WH Smith- won't know until midnight tomorrow
Amazon: £8.99

Town goes Harry Potty!: IT's official - Tredegar is one of the top towns in the UK when it comes to being potty about Harry Potter.

One in every 16 homes in the valleys town has pre-ordered the last of the boy wizard tales - the second highest figure in the UK.

Across the UK, one in 43 homes on average has pre-ordered the latest Harry Potter book, the Royal Mail said today.

The top spot is Westminster with one in 15 homes ordering the book.

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