Charles Mackay was a British poet, journalist, and songwriter. He was born in Perth, Scotland, and educated at the Royal Caledonian Asylum, London, and at Brussels, but spent much of his early life in France. Coming to London in 1834, he engaged in journalism, working for The Morning Chronical from 1835 to 1844 and then became editor of The Glasgow Argus. He moved to The Illustrated London News in 1848, becoming editor in 1852.
He published Songs and Poems (1834), wrote a History of London, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, and a romance, Longbeard. He is also remembered for his Dictionary of Lowland Scotch.
His fame, however, chiefly rests upon his songs, some of which, including Cheer, Boys, Cheer, were in 1846 set to music by Henry Russell, and had an astonishing popularity. Mackay acted as Times correspondent during the American Civil War, and in that capacity discovered and disclosed the Fenian conspiracy. He had the degree of LLD from Glasgow in 1846. He was a member of the Percy Society.