Most of us know Peter, the little rabbit in the blue coat. Beatrix Potter’s tales of his exploits have populated many of our childhoods, mine included – a particularly prized cup with him on was a source of contentious between my sister and I every tea time.

These stories are held to be decidedly British, believed to have sprung from the mind of Potter who was inspired by the rolling green countryside of north-west England and her pet rabbit Peter. However, while researching the African-inspired folk tales of Brer Rabbit, the post-colonial litearature academic Emily Zobel Marshall thought, “There’s something very similar going on here.”

A few Potter scholars had noted this before but not made too much fanfare. Closely reading Potter’s letters, biographies and books, Marshall argues that Potter’s Peter Rabbit tales owe a great debt to Brer and the enslaved Africans who retold these stories on plantations in the US – a debt she never acknowledged publicly but that should be now.

If you’ve many under-25s in your life, you might have noticed a trend for dressing in all sorts of wild ways. “Anything can be clothes if you want them to be and there are no rules,” is what they seem to be saying. Think keyboards as tops – yes, the ones you type with. Even if electronics as accessories are too much, there’s something freeing about bucking sartorial rules and dressing however you want. So this weekend why not try dressing outside of the lines?

While many of us might be jealous of Gen Z’s ability to express themselves in such ways, this generation is missing out on a lot of things that seemed guaranteed to generations before them. One big thing, for instance, is home ownership.

In the UK, ownership rates among 25-34 year-olds have halved to 30% in less than two decades, and it will probably be even lower for Gen Z. They seem doomed to rent, and in the UK this option is riddled with problems – from declining supply and quality to rising prices. Susan Smith writes about what can be done to help this dismal housing situation.

This week we also wondered what aliens learn if they observed the Earth, whether anything can make Trump supporters change their minds, and why weightlifting could be good for menopause.

Naomi Joseph

Arts + Culture Editor

An illustration by Beatrix Potter from The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. The Trustees of the British Museum

Beatrix Potter’s famous tales are rooted in stories told by enslaved Africans – but she was very quiet about their origins

Emily Zobel Marshall, Leeds Beckett University

Beatrix Potter’s silence concerning her sources means the Brer Rabbit folktales that helped create her stories are passed over without acknowledgement or celebration.

Stephen Chung/Alamy

Why we should embrace the joy of dressing ‘outside of the lines’ like Gen Z

Steven Wright, University of South Wales; Gwyneth Moore, University of South Wales

Mismatched, ill-fitting and ‘ugly’ clothes are in so let go of the anxiety of dressing ‘well’ and dress however you want.

William Barton/Shutterstock

Home ownership is shrinking, private renting isn’t working – what’s next?

Susan Smith, University of Cambridge

An expert on what the post-homeownership world looks like.

Earth seen from orbit around the Moon. Nasa

What would aliens learn if they observed the Earth? Our study provides an answer

Michael Garrett, University of Manchester

The accumulated radio emission from mobile phones on Earth is beginning to become quite significant.

Trump supporters at a rally in Waco, Texas, in March 2023. Zuma/Alamy

Is there a tipping point for Trump supporters to stop backing him? Here’s what the science says

Geoff Beattie, Edge Hill University

A psychologist looks at if there is anything Donald Trump could do that might stop his supporters in their tracks.

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