Anne Tolstoi Wallach, "who rose to the executive ranks in the male-dominated New York advertising world, then wrote a saucy, much-discussed bestseller about a fictional woman who does the same," died June 27, the New York Times reported. She was 89.
Wallach "shook up the publishing industry" in 1981 with her debut novel, Women's Work, which had brought an $850,000 advance from New American Library, "a staggering figure (the equivalent of about $2.4 million today) for a first-time novelist," the Times noted. She used her newfound prominence to draw attention to issues of concern for women in the workplace, including maternity leave.
After graduating from Radcliffe in 1949, Wallach had taken a job at the New York agency J. Walter Thompson. "I got my job at Thompson because I had secretarial experience,” she wrote in a 1987 essay for the New York Times Magazine. "It was the only way into advertising for a woman." She eventually became a Thompson v-p and creative director. After 14 years, she moved to Grey Advertising.
When her agent was auctioning the manuscript for Women's Work, "the price climbing into the stratosphere, she was preoccupied with the campaigns for Playtex and Aquafresh in her day job," the Times wrote. Wallach used the proceeds from the novel to complete "a labor-of-love nonfiction book," Paper Dolls: How to Find, Recognize, Buy, Collect and Sell the Cutouts of Two Centuries. (1982). She also wrote two other novels, Private Scores (1988) and Trials (1996).