The term poor white is not uncommon and neither is the whole phenomenon. The topic dominated much of the academic, media and entertainment spheres for the better part of the twentieth century. This dissertation examines poor whites in fiction and non-fiction and attempts to demonstrate that there is a certain overlap. Thus by combining the two types of literature it shows that the selected novels, written during the first half of the twentieth century by authors from the Realist genre, may be considered cultural historical sources in their own right in terms of portraying the daily lives and struggles of poor whites. This study considers the processes of combining fiction and non-fiction and the different types of sources written about the poor whites. The authors and the period in which they lived are examined to create a better understanding of the time context, the genre and the topic itself. The different types of poor whites and the different definitions of poor whites, in the academic sources, are compared to the poor whites who are portrayed in the novels and thus one could argue in popular consciousness. The different causes of poor white poverty in the academic texts are compared to those in the novels. Lastly, poor white women, a rather marginalised sector, are examined in terms of the volksmoeder concept and how the novels redefined the term.