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Inspired by this question I was wondering why the Half Blood Prince left his book as a class copy. One would think that it was precious to him, since he invested so much in it. He made up potions and spells up by his own. I would expect him to keep it to himself. Both, because of the personal value of it, and to prevent others to (as happened at last) use his work (misguided and/or against him).

Is there any canon explanation why his book was left as class copy?

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None that I know of. He might have left it there on purpose so as to help some other student with Potions, with all the hacks he had found about. Or it might have gotten left behind by accident, which isn't very improbable either. –  ash_k29 Apr 30 at 7:23
    
I think as a student Professor Snape did not own the book. Hogwarts has bought that copy and had lent it to students, but they had to return it after the end of the year so that other students could use it. –  b_jonas Apr 30 at 9:16
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Snape kept a scanned copy in his Evernote account.. Cloud rules everywhere. –  Sachin Shekhar Apr 30 at 15:27
    
except at Hogwarts, where muggle technology doesn't work –  user13267 Apr 30 at 16:03
    
@user13267: maybe it still did at Snape's time? Pre-1980, who knows? ...oh, wait... –  leftaroundabout May 1 at 18:56
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3 Answers 3

up vote 34 down vote accepted

Is there any canon explanation why his book was left as a class copy?

I doubt it was left as a class copy.

The book was probably left in the cupboard by Snape as a personal reference, and found by Slughorn when he took over the class. Of course, after many years of referring to it, Snape probably knows everything in it completely from memory, and he doesn’t need to look at the book any more.

Harry and Ron only get textbooks from the cupboard because they didn’t buy copies beforehand, which is fairly unusual. When Snape was running the course, you’d know whether you were taking Potions to NEWT before you started the class (and Snape isn’t the one to make exceptions).

It sounds as if Slughorn expects them to borrow them, then return them when they have their own:

“Ah, yes, Professor McGonagall did mention… not to worry, my dear boy, not to worry at all. You can use ingredients from the store cupboard today, and I’m sure we can lend you some scales, and we’ve got a small stock of old books here, they'll do until you can write to Flourish and Blotts….

Somehow I don’t imagine Snape being so generous. You turn up without the textbook? Tough, five points from Gryffindor. Ten for talking back. And another fifteen at the end of the class when you can’t finish the potion.

There was probably never a risk that a student would get that book in one of Snape’s classes, and that only opened up when Slughorn took over the class. (This means Harry getting the book isn’t just a plot convenience – both Harry and Ron fell through the gap between Slughorn and Snape’s NEWT requirements. Then it’s 50/50 which of them get Snape’s old book.)

I imagine that in earlier years, Snape would have been more careful, but he has a lot on his mind – the ongoing war with Voldemort, his Unbreakable Vow, and preparing a DADA course – an old notebook that he hasn’t looked at in years probably isn’t top of his mind of things to remove when sanitising his old classroom.

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"another fifteen at the end of the class when you can’t finish the potion" or twenty for getting Hermione to help them –  Kevin Apr 30 at 14:41
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Snape was poor when he went to Hogwarts, he had to use borrowed books and then return them to the school.

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Do you have reference about that ? –  Luc M Apr 30 at 20:29
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@LucM - well, there's canon info that he was poor. However, I don't know of any that said he had to borrow books (even Weasleys' didn't) –  DVK May 1 at 1:54
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I think that Dumbledore, had Snape leave the book and place a spell on the book so Harry would retrieve it and knew harry would win the Good luck potion, and retrieve the needed memory, I doubt if much happens at Hogwarts by accident.

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Is this fanfic or are you basing this on any actual canon evidence? –  Richard 10 hours ago
    
Do you have any evidence to support this? Dumbledore's good but there are a million easier, and more surefire ways to get the potion to Harry. He could have simply ASKED Slughorn to help him make one "For experience" since Sluggy loves him so much. Furthermore, the potion, IIRC, wasn't part of Dumbledore's plan: he simply wanted Harry to persuade him, and he was too damn clumsy to do it. After all, Dumbledore could have taken Felix Felicis to get it himself -- he expected Harry to do it, as Hermione said, in a way no one else could. The fact that Harry messed that up wasn't Albus' plan, IIRC. –  Mac Cooper 10 hours ago
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