Marie von Wallarsee was born in 1858 as the illegitimate first child of Duke Ludwig, a grandson of King Maximilian I of Bavaria (making her a cousin of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, mentioned elsewhere.) The illegitimacy was because of family resistance to the Duke marrying a commoner. The Duke finally was able to marry and his wife and Marie were both given the title of Baroness. Earlier, the Duke's youngest sister Elisabeth had been chosen by the young Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph to be his wife instead of a planned marriage to another sister. Among their children, the Imperial couple had in 1858 a son and heir, Archduke Rudolph (a cousin to Marie.) Empress Elisabeth had taken a liking to her commoner sister-in-law and her daughter and at about age 16 Marie went to live with her aunt. Marie was close to her aunt and become her confidante. In 1877, at the age of 19, a marriage was arranged for her and she became Countess Marie Larish. (She had also gotten a marriage proposal from Count Otto Bismark's son.)
Marie's life took a turn for the worst in January 1889 when Archduke Rudolph, who was married to Princess Stephanie (the daughter of Leopold II of Belgium) was found dead at Mayerling, a hunting lodge not far from Vienna. The body of the archduke, the heir to the Austrian Empire, was found with the body of Marie (Mary) Vetsera, a baroness who was his mistress. Even by her own accounts the Countess had been serving as a go-between for Rudolph and Mary, although, in her books, she wrote that she was at times duped and at other times her good-nature was taken advantage of. Despite this, when the affair came to its bloody end she suffered the wrath of the imperial family and became the disgrace of Europe.
Marie divorced Count Larisch in 1896. The Countess married again in the following year. This was to Otto Brucks a Royal Bavarian Court singer. Marie was nominally the author in 1913 of My Past (subtitled: "Reminiscences of the Courts of Austria and Bavaria; Together with the True Story of the Events Leading Up to the Tragic Death of Rudolph, Crown Prince of Austria"). For more information on Marie please see the web page mentioned below.
Eliot's widow comments in "The Facsimile" (pp. 126-127) that the remarks that Eliot included in The Waste Land were taken verbatim from a conversation that Eliot had with the Countess.
Members of Bavaria's Wittelsbach royal family show up here and there in The Waste Land, either mentioned outright or as possible allusions. See these Miscellanea pages (ordered as they appear):
For much more information on Marie, her aunt, the Empress, her aunt, the Queen, her archduke cousins, her cousin King Ludwig and other royal and imperial family members visit this webpage elsewhere on this website: http://world.std.com/~raparker/exploring/thewasteland/exmarie.html