Soto del Real has a population of around 9,000 people and is at an elevation of 921 meters. It is bordered by Manzanares el Real in the west, Miraflores de la Sierra to the east, Rascafría to the north and Colmenar Viejo to the south. It is about a 45-minute drive from Lavapies depending on the route and traffic. The M-607 route avoids the worst of urban driving. The most direct route using public transit is to take the C4 train from the Sol Cercanais station to Colmenar Viejo, and then getting off and picking up the 720 Interurbano bus. Each leg is about 40 minutes. Soto del Real dates back to the Roman times, and was continually occupied since. Roman, Visigoth and Moorish historical items remain visible in Soto del Real if people know where to look.
During the 1960s, Gloria Fuertes and Phyllis Turnbull shared a house in Soto del Real. They had commissioned the house’s construction by Matilde Ucelay, the first Spanish woman architect. Turnbull had introduced Fuertes to the Fulbright Scholarship which allowed the couple to spend three years together in the United States. These years were some of the happiest for both women. When her scholarship ended, the couple returned to Soto del Real. The return though caused a rupture in the couple’s relationship, with periods of separation. Despite these ruptures, they always remained in contact. It was during one of these breaks that Turnbull died of cancer. Fuertes was heartbroken and lost a lot of weight in the year following her death. Following her death, Fuerte’s new philosophy in life was “La vida es una mierda de vaca de la que tenemos que hacer un pastel de manzana” which translates to “Life is cow shit from which we have to make an apple pie.” Fuertes was so depressed that she wrote that she contemplated suicide, “Fui al metro decidida a matarme, pero al ir a sacar el billete ligué, y en vez de tirarme al tren me tiré a la taquillera.” This translates to “I went to the subway determined to kill myself, but when I went to get the ticket I flirted, and instead of jumping on the train I threw myself at the ticket office. “
In 2013, women without male partners, namely lesbians and single women, faced the most barriers in trying to access reproductive assistance in Madrid, Asturias and Andalucía.
Phyllis Burrows Turnbull, more commonly known in Spain as Miss Fillis, was a professor in Department of Spanish at Bryn Mawr College, and the creator of the “Center for Hispanic Studies” of Bryn Mawr College. Turnbull was romantically linked to Spanish writer Gloria Fuertes, with their relationship lasting 15 years. She enabled several students in the town to study in both Spain and the United States.
Calle Señorita Phyllis Turnbull is a street in the municipality named after the American academic and writer Phyllis B. Turnbull. She spent many years in Madrid, and was the long time love of Gloria Fuertes. The street was renamed in her honor in the 1990s.