Before the First World War, he lived for a time at Dymock in Gloucestershire, part of a community which included Rupert Brooke and Robert Frost. Edward Thomas also visited. In 1922, he was appointed Professor of English at the University of Leeds. In 1929 he moved on to the University of London, and in 1935 a prestigious readership at Oxford University. He wrote a series of works on the nature of poetry, and several volumes of original verse, that were collected in 'Poems' (1930). In the same year he published separately his most important poem, 'The Sale of Saint Thomas' in six 'Acts'. He was the brother of the architect Patrick Abercrombie.
His son was the cell biologist Michael Abercrombie.