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Great post! I'm here thanks to Philobiblon and I've pointed to this article. I'll be back, I love stories like this.


This whole thing begs for a picture. I need to find a reason to let her shoot me through the hand


Very interesting. Made me want to see what 'beauty' would cause so much devastation.

For Countess Tarnowska's picture, click and scroll
to the bottom of the page. This is a bar named after her and they have her photo on the bottom.


Am writing treatment for feature film on Maria Tarnowska. Would anyone who has additonalinformatin please send it to me - or contact me via em. Thank you.


Where have I been?! ;)
I mean, how could've I missed your entry - by far the most interesting short account of her - while browsing around for M. Nikolaevna?

Well done.

And BTW, would anyone who discovers some concrete information about her exact whereabouts and goings-on in Argentina, where she is supposed to have died in 1948 (?), leave the said informaion here, so that I can pick it up, too? ;)


Adding to the bibliography (for those who haven't read "More on Marie":

You absolutely shouldn't miss it.
It's a strange novel - somewhat corny, no doubt, but very beautiful in some essential aspects. (The foreword itself is a small gem!)

Also, while it's not necessarily 100% accurate on all accounts (I suspect the author was retroactively swayed by her himself - se the foreword), it does convey her *fascino*, and provide the essential details on the early life of Maria Tarnowska, nee O'Rourke.

P.S. Where is that Polish book? I can't find it on the website. (I searched with different keywords, browsed the biographies section... nothing.)


Me again... (Don't worry, I'll be gone in a minute. ;)
I forgot to include a link to a very good scan of the frontpage of Vivanti's book (be sure to zoom in), which also features a very clear version of the photo originally posted in this blog.


And for those who read Italian, here's Tarnowska's page from the same website on Vivanti:

(It seems she died in Santa Fe, in 1949. If anyone can provide copies from Argentine magazines or newspapers, I'd be glad to translate.)

Kyra Pahlen

Dear Laura,

Would you please contact me as I will soon be writing the script on MT, and all info is welcome - and I believe you may have other angles. I have all the articles the Corriere della Serra wrote on her.

Also, I am trying to find out more about when she died, and circumstances - and are there any living heirs?

Hope to hear from you!



It's Count TARNOWSKY - not "Tarnowska", which is simply the female form of the surname. (And the surname itself means "from Tarnow", a town in Poland.)

>>It's Count TARNOWSKY

Yes, you caught me being lazy. I later discovered numerous errors in my essay, which I haven't bothered to fix. Thanks for the kick! :)

Tatjana Hine (Tarnovska)

May I point out that grandchildren and greatgrandchildren of this lady are still alive and should be consulted before any more nonsence is published or put into a film. My concern is for my grandfather, her husband as we are of the second marriage

Andrei Kamarowsky

wow! Many thanks Laura for this forum! i ve been researching alot into the life of Maria for the past couple of months! i read the Hans Habe book, but there is alot of interesting infos here!
how far along are you with your treatment?!
I have to admit its been my dream to one day be to adapt her life into a feature! i would love to know how its going!!
does anyone know why the Visconti movie on her never got made?!

Laura James

Hello Andrei and thank you for your nice note. Maria is a fascinating person and I get notes from all over the world about her.
I am quite far along in my research, and hope to publish a book about Maria Tarnovska in 2010.
Much of Habe is fiction. But not the most interesting chapters - they are all true.

There continues to be so much interest in Maria after 100 years, I think sooner or later there will be a film about her. Visconti did not finish his film, as I understand it, because in part, he fell out with his lady friend who was cast to play the lead, and the descendants of Count Tarnowsky threatened to sue. It's all very interesting, I agree!!

Robert Booth

What about this? I thought Tarnovska died in Santa Fe on 23rd January 1947?


Mme. Tarnovska Hangs Herself in a Railway Train After Release from Jail in Italy.


Husband Offered to Join Her in Venice After Her Release, but She Said She Wanted to Travel Alone.

By Marconi Transatlantic Wireless Telegraph to The New York Times.


Countess Maria Tarnovska, whose trial in 1910 in Venice on the charge of complicity in the murder of Count Kamarovsky earned her the title of “the Fatal Countess,” has come to a tragic end.

She was recently released from prison in Venice, having earned by good conduct a substantial reduction of her eight years’ sentence. Her husband wrote to her, offering to join her in Venice, but she replied that she preferred to travel alone.

When the train for this city in which she was a passenger arrived at Dombrovitza the body of the Countess was found in a first-class carriage, hanging by a towel from a baggage rack.

It was evidently a case of suicide. The Countess’s valuable jewels and her money were found untouched.

Laura James

There are MANY differing accounts of her death. In 1913, her cousin, also a Countess Tarnovska, committed suicide. Marie did not. She was in prison at this time

Truus Janssen

Laura, I would like to get in touch with you. I'm writing an article on Countess Tarnowska and happened to find your blog and articles. I was wondering when the book will be published.

Sarah Graham

I read Hans Habe's "The Countess" years ago and, became fascinated by the true life exploits of Maria Tarnovska. (LOL: I even wrote a book report on this in high school which raised the eyebrows of my English teacher a few inches!)

However, Habe's tale is a mostly fictionalized account and, the details of Tarnovska's life following her trial and imprisonment are quite vague.

I agree with previous posters that Tarnovska's biography (if rendered in a thoughtful, powerful but non-exploitative manner)could make an excellent and riveting film.

Please let us know when you complete this book - I will definitely purchase a copy.


Лечение наркомании

Oh it is very important film would be. Every film should base on reality


Now it looks painfully exciting, infinitely universal. As the forces dispute on this matter, but did not say I enjoy


I am waiting


cool film

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