The two works for which Crabbe became best known were The Village (1783) and The Borough (1810), both lengthy poems dealing with the way of life he had grown up with. In 1783, he also married Sarah. In 1814, he became Rector of Trowbridge in Wiltshire, where he remained. By the time of his death, he was well-regarded and a friend of William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott and other major literary figures of the time.
Benjamin Britten's opera Peter Grimes is based on The Borough. Byron, an avowed admirer of Crabbe's poetry, called him "Nature's sternest painter, yet the best". Crabbe's poetry was predominantly in the form of heroic couplets. His poetry has also been described as unsentimental in its depiction of provincial life and society.
He is also an active and notable coleopterist and recorder of beetles, and is credited for taking the first specimen of Calosoma sycophanta L. to be recorded from Suffolk. He published an essay on the Natural History of the Vale of Belvoir in John Nichols's, Bibliotheca Topographia Britannica, VIII, Antiquities in Leicestershire, 1790. It includes a very extensive list of local coleopterans, and references more than 70 species. This text was later reviewed by the renowned entomologist Horace Donisthorpe (Leics. lit. phil. Soc., 4, 1896, 198-200), who concluded that George Crabbe had both a broad knowledge of national species and was well acquainted with contemporary scientific literature, including works by Linnaeus and Fabricius.