SHADOW RIDER: Out Next Week!
My next release, SHADOW RIDER, hits the stores next week. Now I’ve had a jpeg of the cover for sometime now, wondering, as I did for my first book, DARK RIDER (Kensington, 2007), how I might explain that my books are historical romances set in the 13th century. Look closely at the cover jacket of SHADOW RIDER and you will see the reason for my quandary —the “knight” on the cover is wearing blue jeans! Yep, denim blue jeans. Again. The knight on the cover of DARK RIDER did, too, and he even had buttons on his shirt and a collar (GASP).
I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before—most authors have no real control over their covers. I certainly don’t. But despite the anachronistic attire, I do like the covers, especially SHADOW RIDER’s.
Could it be possible, I wondered, for a knight in 1276 to actually wear the fabric that we’ve come to know as denim?
Much to my surprise if I’d just set my stories a couple of hundred years later—the answer is yes. He could have if he’d been a knight in the 1600’s.
The info I researched below can be attributed to the Levi Strauss Historian, Lynn Downy. I paraphrase what she writes (see http://www.levistrauss.com/Downloads/History-Denim.pdftext for the complete text):
“In 1969 a writer for American Fabrics magazine declared, “Denim is one of the world’s oldest fabrics, yet it remains eternally young.” From the 17th century to the present, denim has been woven, used and discarded; made into upholstery, pants and awnings; found in museums, attics, antique stores and archaeological digs; worn as the fabric of hard honest work, and as the expression of angry rebellion; used for the sails of Columbus’ ships in legend; and worn by American cowboys in fact.”
Legend and fact are also interwoven when scholars discuss the origin of the name denim itself. Most reference books say that denim is an English corruption of the French “serge de Nimes;” a serge fabric from the town of Nimes in France that was in production as early as the 1400s (my fact-finding here). However, some scholars have begun to question this tradition. A fabric called “serge de Nimes,” was known in France prior to the 17th century. At the same time, there was also a fabric known in France as “nim.” Both fabrics were composed partly of wool and exported to England. “Denim” made in France tended to ad a certain cachet that translated to higher sales. But the English recognized a fashion trend. “Serge de Nimes” purchased in England was very likely to have actually made in England, and not in Nimes, France.
There still remains the question of how the word “denim” is popularly thought to be descended from the word “serge de Nimes.” Serge de Nimes was made of silk and wool, but denim has always been made of cotton. What we have here again, I think, is a relation between fabrics that is in name only, though both fabrics are a twill weave. Is the real origin of the word denim “serge de nim,” meaning a fabric that resembled the part-wool fabric called nim? Was serge de Nimes more well-known, and was this word mis-translated when it crossed the English Channel? Or, did British merchants decide to give a zippy French name to an English fabric to give it marketing boost? It’s likely we will never really know.
What we do know is that denim’s popularity grew worldwide. President George Washington toured a Massachusetts mill in 1789 and was shown the machinery which wove fabric.”
So there you have it. My 13th century knights on the cover of SHADOW RIDER and on the cover of DARK RIDER would not have worn denim--quite yet.
Obviously, they were men ahead of their time. ;-)
Kathrynn Dennis, Author-of-the-Blue-Jean-Medieval
SHADOW RIDER-Oct 2007
4 Stars! Romantic Times Reviews
TOP PICK, ParanormalRomanceReviews.org