He published during 1878 a collection of stories entitled Nouvelles réalistes. Making himself the chronicler of his native province of Quercy in southwestern France, he described its scenery and its life. His rustic novels were in the same vein as those of Jean de Noarrieu and André Theuriet. His L'Innocent (1884) was dedicated to his friend Pierre Loti (the pseudonym of the French naval lieutenant Julien Viaud), later author of Madame Chrysanthème (1887).
His books include:
- Césette (1881), the story of a peasant girl
- L'Innocent (1884)
- Jean-de-Jeanne (1886)
- Le Cheval bleu (1888)
- Le Vœu d'être chaste (1900)
- Chante-pleure (1890)
- Les Antibel (1892)
- Petites âmes (1893)
- Mademoiselle Clémence (1896)
- Pays et paysages (1895)
- Petites gens (1905)
- Bernadette de Lourdes (1894), a mystery
- Le Roi de Rome (1898), a play
- Marcel Clavié Émile Pouvillon: 1840-1906 : un grand écrivain régionaliste- 1933
- Edmond Galabert Souvenirs Sur Émile Pouvillon 1910
- David Coward A history of French literature: from chanson de geste to cinema 2003 p488 "This kind of reassurance was to be had in the rustic novels of Émile Pouvillon (Jean de Jeanne, 1886) and Jean de Noarrieu, and in the tales of small-town and country life of André Theuriet (1833–1907)."
- A Vision of the Orient: Texts, Intertexts, And Contexts of Madame p226 J. L. Wisenthal, Sherrill E. Grace, Melinda Boyd - 2006 "following conversation, reported in Loti's Journal intime 1882–1885, between Loti and his friend Émile Pouvillon: 'I am going to get to work on some Tonkineries, but I find this country so odious that I will do them only with difficulty'".
- La Nouvelle revue 1922 "Ce sont d'Émile Pouvillon, le Roi de Rome paru en 1898"