The Great Grisby

HarperCollins, October 2014,   Order from Amazon here!

“Filled w3ith marvelous anecdotes and insights,” The New York Times, 30/10/2014.

“I have read thousands of books in my 81 years and this is the only one that has made me happy.” Jonathan Mirsky,  Literary Review 12/6/2014

Inspired by her seven-year love affair with her French bulldog, Grisby, author Mikita Brottman ruminates on the special bond between dogs and humans in THE GREAT GRISBY: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical and Artistic Dog Lovers and their Exceptional Animals. Is her relationship with Grisby nourishing or dysfunctional? Commonplace or unique? As she ponders these questions, she draws support and inspiration from history, art, philosophy, and literature. In THE GREAT GRISBY, Brottman assembles a charming literary banquet of canine personalities, ranging from Atma (Schopenhauer’s Standard Poodle) to Thomas Hardy and his terrier Wessex, Frida Kahlo and her hairless Mexican dog Xolotl, to Zemire (Catherine the Great’s Italian greyhound). Through quirky anecdotes and personal reflections, with side-trips into psychoanalysis and animal studies, THE GREAT GRISBY shows us the many ways in which dog is the mirror of man.


Grisby“Utterly delightful and beautifully written, The Great Grisby is a wide-ranging account of dogs in literature, history and folklore, yet the greatest pleasure of this wonderful book is reading about the author’s love for Grisby. You will completely forgive the fact that the she is besotted.  Why should she not be?  Her descriptions of the two of them spending the day quietly at home is mesmerizing in its ability to remind us of the simple pleasure of  hanging together, dog and person.  No dog lover will find fault with it.”  Jeffrey Masson, author of When Elephants Weep.

“Insightful and utterly fascinating. Learn how dogs have enriched the lives of poets, artists, kings, writers, and many other notable people in this fascinating book about dogs in literature and history. Who knew that Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, unknowingly had the first therapy dog? The Great Grisby is a wonderful book about the special bond between humans and dogs.” Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make us Human.

Watch the book trailer here!


Annapolis Book Festival 2015, 10AM, Saturday April 25, 2015
Virginia Festival of the Book, JMRL, Charlottesville, VA, March 18, 2015. Pictures here!
Dog Talk #405, Radio Pet Lady Network, January 24, 2015. Interview starts at 0.28 minutes.
Dzień Dobry TVN, Polish Morning Television, January 12, 2015
Doctor Radio Sirius XM81, Dr. Frank Adams, January 6, 2015
Starts Here! Reading Series at Artifact Coffee, November 17, 2014
New Mercury Reading Series, The Wind-Up Space, Baltimore, October 25, 2014
Ivy Bookstore Baltimore, Book Launch Party & Reading, October 8, 2014


Country Life, (pdf) February 8 2015
Vegetarian Friends, January 2015
Books for Animal Lovers, December 2014
Baltimore City Paper, Top Ten Local Books, December 15 2014
Pittsburgh Examiner, Best Books of 2014, December 7 2014
The Dodo, December 10, 2014
The Literary Review December 6, 2014 (pdf)
Spectator Books of the Year, 17 November 2014
Baltimore Magazine November 2014
New York Times, Oct 29, 2014
Boston Globe, Oct 18, 2014
Iron Mountain Daily News, October 17, 2014
Shelf Awareness, Oct 14 2014
Chicago Tribune, Oct 7, 2014
Baltimore Style, Oct 2014
Seattle Post Examiner, Sept. 14 2014
Kirkus Reviews Aug 11 2014
Publishers’ Weekly, Aug 11 2014


How to Name Your Dog, Nameberry, November 20, 2014
Lusty Ladies & Dogs, Psychology Tomorrow, Oct 2014
Richard Gere and Hachiko, The Telegraph, Oct 2014
Writers and their Dachshunds, Huffington Post , Oct 15 2014
7 Memorable Dogs from Literature, Huffpo, Oct 7, 2014
The Great Grisby, Baltimore Sun, Sept 29 2014
Top 10 Literary Canines, The Guardian, Sept 12 2014
Talking to Your Dog, Thought Catalog, Sept 11 2014
The Love that Dare not Bark its Name, Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept 8 2014
9 Presidential Faux Paws,” The Dodo, Sept 20 2014


“I loved the book. Maybe I can come back as Mikita Brottman’s dog in another life. If The Great Grisby were a meal, it would satisfy (at last) even the hungriest of dogs, and the most discerning of passionate log lovers. No kibble, a feast. I devoured it in one savory bite.”   Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life.

“An entertaining literary and historical romp through the world of dogs.”   Kirkus Reviews

“The Great Grisby contains a wealth of new information about dogs. Written in a friendly, accessible style, the book draws the reader into the stories of previously overlooked dogs – ranging from companions of the famous to characters in novels, poems, even musical compositions- and smoothly weaves in the story of the author and her beloved French bulldog Grisby.” Maureen Adams, author of Shaggy Muses: The Dogs who inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Bronte.

“The Great Grisby is a fascinating look at canines through the ages. The dogs you’ll meet testify to the power of the human-animal bond.”  David Grimm, author of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs

“The Great Grisby will be of great interest to the dog-lover and the historian of the dog.” Geoffrey C. Bond, OBE, DL, LLD, FSA, author of Lord Byron’s Best Friends–from Bulldogs to Boatswain and Beyond.


  1. robert buck says:

    Hello, I’m interested in a reference you made to Lacan in your essay the “Shrinking City”, specifically the room at the Belvedere Hotel where he made the likened the unconscious to Baltimore in the early morning. I’m trying to locate the exact room number A long shot, I know! I appreciate any additional information you might have regarding this. I’m an artist, originally from Baltimore, now in NYC, and a member of a Lacanian study group. Thank you so much, Robert Buck

  2. Hi Robert. In 1966, when the Humanities Conference took place, the the hotel was still the Sheraton Belvedere, owned by the Sheraton corporation. I don’t know where you’d find the records, but the conference was organized by Richard Macksey at the Johns Hopkins Humanities Center. He’s retired but still an active scholar. He may have records or notes of the room allocations. That’s where I’d start if I were you, though it’s a long shot, as you say, because some of the rooms have been restructured since they were turned into condos. Good luck!

  3. Marjorie de Saint-Ferjeux says:

    I am still reading your admirable book, scholarly and witty.To me Grisby is still alive. The book was so good I was rationing it (to hell with the overdue notices!) But I have just read the Baltimore interview and am still shocked. It is a year today since my Pirrie (blue roan English cocker spaniel ) died. Yes I have family fiends and so on, no he wasn’t a substitute, but there was a part of my life that was spent with him and loving him. Really most of every day. Walking, barking at waves. I read about Oliver and feel hopeful. I have been away on and off, no good getting a dog for someone else to raise. But never leaving the country again after October and your words have made me feel that a future with a dog is possible. Thank you.
    PS I live in Melbourne. The Centrepiece is so ghastly we’re proud of it!

  4. Marjorie, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear about Pirrie. I know that everyone grieves in different ways, and I think writing about Grisby helped me accept his death. I wanted another Grisby, and acquired a dog the same breed and color. But Oliver is, of course, entirely different. Yesterday we went to the beach together and spent the morning playing in the sun, reading (me) and barking at waves (Oliver) and I thought about how much I loved Grisby, and how much I love Oliver, and it was perfect bliss. I hope you find another dog like or unlike Pirrie.

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