Gloria Fuertes was a poet and member of the Generación del 50, the first post-war generation of Spanish writers. She was a lesbian and feminist, and an important one in Francoist Spain at a time when the regime demanded conformity to strict ideological gender roles. She was a chain smoker, remained single her whole life and described herself as lonely in her autobiography.
Fuertes was born in Madrid on 28 July 1917. Her roots were working-class; father was a janitor, and her mother was a servant and seamstress. Fuertes enrolled at the Instituto de Educación Profesional de la Mujer at the age of 14, eventually obtaining several diplomas from the school. Fuertes wanted to be a writer and her first poem was published at the same age in 1932, with her first book of poetry published when she was a 17-year-old. Her work often dealt with issues of gender equality, presenting a new model for women under the heavily restrictive Franco regime. Fuertes went on to edit children’s magazines and poetry magazines, eventually becoming the director of one. All the time, she continued to write, perform her poems at poetry recitals, give readings of her work, visit schools, organizing a mobile library for children in rural areas, and contributing to literacy on Spanish radio and television. She died in Madrid on 27 November 1998 from lung cancer.
Gloria Fuertes was an important literary figure, tied to the city of Madrid and more specifically to Lavapies in the city and Soto del Real in north of the region. She lived and had a literary presence in many other places in the city.
The first part of the journey starts in Sol, at Carrera de San Jerónimo, 5 where Fuertes ran a writing circle. It continues to Calle Mayor, 1 where an important literary café once was. The route ends at Calle Arenal, about 300 meters from Plaza de Ópera, where a bookstore once was where Fuertes was denounced for being a pacifist. The short Sol route takes about 6 minutes to walk on foot and is about 500 meters long.
The Chamartin part of the route in the south of the district at Calle del Pinar, where Instituto de Educación Profesional de la Mujer was located. This was where Fuertes went to school as a 14-year-old. While you can walk the 4.5 kilometers to the next stop, it is faster to take either the number 14, 150 or 40 EMT bus or line 10 of the metro to Jardín de Gloria Fuertes located at Calle de la Madre de Dios, 2. From there, it is a 1.1 kilometer walk to Avenida de Alberto, where Fuertes lived as an adult after moving out of Lavapies. The Chamartin leg of the route ends at Avenida de Alberto de Alcocer, 42. This is 249 meter walk away. It is in this building that Gloria Fuertes died in 1998.
The rest of Madrid portion of the route has five stops and starts at Calle de Santa Marta, 15 where Colegio Ciudad de los Muchachos is located. Gloria Fuertes left the bulk of her estate to the school in her will. From there, the route goes to Paseo del Prado, 21, where the Ateneo de Madrid was located. This was an important Madrid cultural institution. While Gloria Fuertes was never really linked to it, she was honored there in 2017. The two are 3.7 kilometers apart, and there are no good direct public transport links between the two. The best option is likely line 1 from Puente de Vallecas to Estacion del Arte. From there, the route continues to the barrio of Cuatro Caminos. The best public transport route is line 1 on the metro from Estacion del Arte to Cuatro Caminos. The next stop is Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, at Glorieta San Antonio de la Florida, 5. Fuertes visited the resting place of Goya with her colleagues in 1939. The best route is taking line 6 from Cuatro Caminos to Principe Pío, and from there it is a 700 meter walk. The last stop is Calle Gloria Fuertes, a street named in honor of the writer in the city. The street is much further north than the rest of the sites on the route, and there are few good public transport routes, with the best option taking the C7 line of Cercanais from Principe Pío to Pitis, and from there it is a 4 minute walk. The street is a number of ones in the Comunidad de Madrid named after the author but the only one in the city.
Gloria Fuertes created a women’s writing group that met in the basement of Carrera de San Jerónimo, 5. Some didn’t like them in the space, and played loud games of tabletop football, shouting out goals in order to make it impossible for the women to work.
Café de Lisboa, located on Calle Mayor, 1, in the Casas del Corderos building, was an important literary gathering site in Madrid. It opened on 4 November 1875, replacing two previous cafes located in the same spot. Ownership changed in 1910, with new owner Arturo Rodríguez cultivating it as a meeting place for members of the press. Prior to that, he did extensive remodeling, making it a bright airy space. Unlike most cafes of the day, it had a ladies dressing table and a separate entrance for women. While the main part of the café remained dominated by men, it offered women their own intellectual space and slowly integrate over time for writers and intelligentsia, both male and female. Among the women who gave literary readings there was Gloria Fuertes. It closed in the late 1950s, being replaced by the restaurant Noche y Día, and then a succession of other hospitality related business. The most recent was McDonalds. Nothing indicates the importance of the place in Spanish literary history.
Librería Abril was a bookstore on Calle Arenal, about 300 meters from Plaza de Ópera. It was owned by Carmina Abril, José Gerardo Manrique de Lara and Pepe Hierro. It was inagurated with a poetry reading by lesbian writer Vicente Aleixandre. Other writers who performed at the library included Gloria Fuertes, who after reciting a poem there in the late 1960s almost went to jail after a man denounced her for being a pacificist. This would have been difficult for the author because her homosexuality was relatively well known in literary circles, and the state could have punished her for being a lesbian despite her being discrete about her relationships.
Instituto de Educación Profesional de la Mujer, located on Calle del Pinar, was a school designed to prepare women for jobs outside the home. These included typing, shorthand, childcare and hygiene. Among the students who attended the school was Gloria Fuertes, who enrolled in 1931 at the age of 14.
Placa de Gloria Fuertes is located at Avenida de Alberto de Alcocer, 42. The plaque reads, “Aquí vivió de 1963 hasta su muerte en 1998 la madrileña GLORIA FUERTES poeta social y de los niños que quiso ser llamada ´´Poeta de Guardia´´”. It translates to, “Here lived Madrid poet Gloria Fuertes from 1963 until her death in 1998. She anted to be called Poeta de Guardia (Guard Poet).”
Jardín de Gloria Fuertes, located at Calle de la Madre de Dios, 2B, is a small tree-shaded neighborhood park named in honor of Gloria Fuertes. Fuertes was a poet and member of the Generación del 50, the first post-war generation of Spanish writers. She was a lesbian and feminist, and an important one in Francoist Spain at a time when the regime demanded conformity to strict ideological gender roles.
Gloria Fuertes lived on Avenida de Alberto Alcocer, moving there as an adult from Lavapies. Despite the move, she continued to travel around the Madrid, returning frequently to Lavapies.
The Rest of The City
Calle de Gloria Fuertes is a street in the barrio named in honor of Gloria Fuertes. Fuertes was a poet and member of the Generación del 50, the first post-war generation of Spanish writers. She was a lesbian and feminist, and an important one in Francoist Spain at a time when the regime demanded conformity to strict ideological gender roles.
Casa de Campo
The Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, located at Glorieta San Antonio de la Florida, 5, is the resting place of Francisco de Goya and features refrescos by the artist. The chapel has been turned into a publicly accessible museum. It is surrounded by parks and green spaces. Gloria Fuertes visited the Ermita in 1939 with her colleagues from the magazine Maravillas.
Colegio Ciudad de los Muchachos, located at Calle de Santa Marta, 15, is a school founded in 1947 to serve working class and disadvantaged youth. It was taken over by the religious order of Salesianos in 1989. When Gloria Fuertes died in 1998, she left the bulk of her estate, more than a hundred million pesetas, to the school as a way of thanking children for the fortune she had made as a children’s writer.
Ateneo de Madrid, located at Paseo del Prado, 21, was an important cultural venue in Madrid during the early part of the 20th century, especially for members of the generación del 98, generación del 14 and the generación del 27. The Ateneo was founded in 1820. By the 1880s, events organized by the Ateneo were being attended a large number of important women of the day including María Luisa Guerra, María Luisa Chevalier, Isabel Echevarría de Aguirre and Matilde Torregrosa. The ability for women to attend events made it an important gathering place in the cultural lives of women from the 1880s onwards. Members of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid would use it to hold their own meetings, to network and to give speeches. Among those attending events in the 1920s included Victorina Durán and Rosa Chacel. On 13 March 2017, the Ateno de Madrid hosted a tribute to Gloria Fuertes in celebration of the centenary of her birth.
The barrio was one of several that Gloria Fuertes lived in during her lifetime. The others include Lavapies, on Calle de las Dos Hermanas in La Latina, and on Calle de los Tres Peces near Metro San Anton.