While he was at Oxford he published (1887) his Dead Man’s Rock (a romance in the vein of Stevenson’s Treasure Island), and he followed this up with Troy Town (1888) and The Splendid Spur (1889). After some journalistic experience in London, mainly as a contributor to the Speaker, in 1891 he settled at Fowey in Cornwall. His later novels included The Blue Pavilions (1891), The Ship of Stars (1899), Hetty Wesley (1903), The Adventures of Harry Revel (1903), Fort Amity (1904), The Shining Ferry (1905), Sir John Constantine (1906).
He published in 1896 a series of critical articles, Adventures in Criticism, and in 1898 he completed Robert Louis Stevenson’s unfinished novel, St Ives. From his Oxford days he was known as a writer of excellent verse. With the exception of the parodies entitled Green Bays (1893), his poetical work is contained in Poems and Ballads (1896). In 1895 he published an anthology from the 16th and 17th-century English lyrists, The Golden Pomp, followed in 1900 by an equally successful Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250—1900 (1900). In Cornwall he was an active worker in politics for the Liberal party. He was knighted in 1910, also that year publishing The Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales from the Old French.
He received a professorship of English at The University of Cambridge in 1912, which he retained for the rest of his life, later becoming Chair of English.
Quiller-Couch was a noted literary critic, publishing several volumes; among these are Studies in Literature (1918) and On the Art of Reading (1920). He edited a successor Oxford Book of English Prose which was published in 1923, and published the 30-volume work of fiction, Tales and Romances, in 1928-9.
He left his autobiography, Memories and Opinions, unfinished; it was nevertheless published in 1945.
In addition, Quiller-Couch was Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club from 1911 until his death. His Book of English Verse is oft-quoted by John Mortimer's fictional character Horace Rumpole.
Some material from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica